The owner of a house in Belvedere opposite Lesnes Abbey has submitted plans to convert a property at 393 Abbey Road into a 14 person Home of Multiple Occupation (HMO). Last year the owner secured permission to convert into a HMO for 6 people.
This is a pretty extreme example of homes built for families becoming sub-divided with each room let out – in this case with two separate beds per room. Newspaper coverage has highlighted how landlords can make huge sums by converting homes – often from housing benefit paid by authorities for each room. Housing benefit in the UK now costs around £25 billion a year.
Fourteen people in one home places pressure on services such as refuse collection as well as parking. Just one kitchen and one bath is provided though there is a separate shower.
Quite often articles on this site regarding new developments see comments stating why build new homes – or “we do not need new homes”. Something along those lines. The comments are from people comfortable in a secure home, and what they really mean is they do not need new homes and do not realise the extreme pressure some are under – particularly in the private rental sector. Nor do they realise that family homes are being converted to HMOs are a high rate and the process is removing available housing from those starting families – or looking to move.
With ever more younger people forced into overcrowded flat shares as prices rocket and decent housing becomes unaffordable to more people, additional new homes are needed to lessen the pressure. Converting family homes highlights the failure of housing policy – and it’s costing everyone dearly whether you can’t find good quality housing yourself or are a taxpayer contributing to that £25 billion annual housing benefit cost.