Brighton and Hove City Council is considering introducing the strictest HMO restrictions in the country, capping HMOs across adjoining neighbourhoods at 20% of all properties.
The rules would also ban three HMOs in a row and the sandwiching of a family home between two HMOs. Additionally, they would forbid HMOs on sites where 10% of dwellings within 50 metres of the plot are already HMOs.
There are 5,000 HMOs in the city. The council’s draft development plan attributes the high number to housing costs and the lack of available housing in the city.
It also says the supply of Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSA) hasn’t matched the expansion in student numbers in recent years.
There are 21,655 students at Brighton University and 17,626 students at Sussex University, according to the latest figures available on student numbers for each university.
The council’s report estimates there to be 12,445 places in Purpose Built Student Accommodation across the city.
Sussex University’s student population has grown by 35% since 2012, when there were 13,103 students.
However, the report acknowledges that many HMOs in the city aren’t filled by students: ‘the cost of housing in the city and overall shortage of new planned housing compared to the assessed need mean that many young professionals and people on low incomes also live in HMOs.’
The 20% cap on the number of HMOs across adjoining neighbourhoods is intended to prevent decrease in demand for local school places. It also intends to stall the closure of shops in areas with high concentrations of shared housing.
During a public meeting of Brighton and Hove’s HMO Forum on Monday, residents complained that students had blighted their neighbourhoods.
Planning permission has been required to convert a family home into an HMO for up to six people in five Brighton council wards since 2013. These are: Hanover and Elm Grove, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Moulsecoombe and Bevendean, Queen’s Park and St Peters and North Laine.
Planning permission is compulsory to rent a property to seven or more people in all areas of the city.
If the HMO restrictions are implemented in full, Brighton will go further than other councils who have recently imposed restrictions on HMOs, such as Portsmouth.