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'It’s remarkably difficult to find out how many HMO's' - Gov say drop from 1/2 million to 190

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'It’s remarkably difficult to find out how many HMO's'  



Living in a shared house doesn’t have to be a last resort

By Julia Park18 September 2018

The government claims there are only 190 homes in multiple occupation. Rather than trying to hide the true number why not encourage high quality homes for sharing

in response to a 2013 Freedom of Information request, the ONS said it didn’t collect this data in the ten yearly census.

Strange, because the government did have a dataset of housing types. The most recent I could find was April 2011. That put the number of ‘verifiable’ HMOs in England at 83,332 and the estimated number at 426,834 – over five times more.

In 2013-14 the National HMO Network, made up of local authorities, environmental health officers and landlords, suggested that there were 543,000 HMOs in England in 2013-14 and that the number was rising. But responding to another FOI request, this time in 2015, the government confirmed that the number of Council Tax properties classed as HMOs was just 190.

It is inconceivable that the number dropped from half a million to 190 in a year, and very likely that the real figure is much higher than even the HMO Network suggested. The vast majority don’t have to be licenced and in 2010 the law was changed to allow small HMOs’ which are planning use class C4 to be interchangeable with C3 (dwelling houses). The classification is intended to reflect the actual use of a house at a given point in time. But as most landlords prefer not to describe their rental properties as HMOs, the vast majority are declared as C3 if anyone even bothers to ask.

Whatever the real stats are, it’s pretty clear that the government isn’t keen to shout about it. Firstly, they simply don’t know and secondly, facing up to the full facts would reveal that housing need is even greater that even worse case scenarios suggest.

Under the government’s own definition, all of the hidden HMOs currently recorded as single family homes are home to at least two households; on average, probably more like four. As we know, the vast majority of tenants are frustrated, aspiring homeowners.

Rather than pretend it’s not happening, wouldn’t it be better to face up to the reality of having to share and provide something better? Yes, our larger cites do now offer, new, good quality Build to Rent developments, some of which are designed for sharers.

Manchester seems to be the new capital of build to rent homes but its shiny new flats are very expensive – out of reach to the majority of most sharers. Even the new ‘shared living’ models – micro flats supported by communal spaces – are too expensive for a typical HMO sharer.

Those who can afford it rarely manage to save at the same time so they make little headway in the housing market. And both options tend to be large, somewhat anonymous, commercial developments that appeal to some but not all.

I’m convinced there’s a more affordable, more characterful, less institutional and better quality purpose-built solution that could be integrated into any normal street and look and feel more like home.

Why not build some large houses (up to five storeys) with shared living, dining, kitchen and utility space at ground level. Integrate secure cycle storage into an extended porch and provide a small paved garden at the back.

Put two large ensuite bedrooms on each of the upper floors with plenty of storage, a desk and really good soundproofing and add a roof terrace.

Split what would be a fair market rent for a similar size family home between the tenants and it needn’t cost more than £400 a month for singles and £550 for couples, even in London.....


Edited by Saving For a Space Ship

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Only a few months ago I saw at least 5 HMOs (described as such) up for sale during a general search on Rightmove or Zoopla, in just one area of Oxford. 

190 sounds ludicrous.  There are presumably a great many that aren't registered. 

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If anyone started seriously venturing down the road of calculating how many people there are per house then it's a dangerous step towards revealing the true UK population including all those who are off the radar, which no sensible politician would want to risk revealing to the electorate.

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Nearly a third of Bath HMOs are dangerous, council finds 'Significant' health and safety risks were found in more than 900 shared homes

thats 2700 in Bath alone ,1/3 of which are dangerous . 


If councils are keeping figures, as they have to be registered, can't the Gov, just add them up ? 

too easy 

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