In an email to local, Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, we said:
"Could I ask you to share these comments about the housing page with your campaigners and prospective councillors around the city please.
- These are comments on behalf of the PDPLA (the local private landlords association)
- Not every member will agree with every comment, but we have had enough feedback over the past 35 years of our existence to have a pretty good understanding of the consensus amongst our members
- And with approx. 4,000 landlords in the city, we do our best to provide the best homes possible for the 25% of the local population who we house
- National statistics show that 84% of private sector tenants are happy with their homes and their landlords compared to around 70% in social housing (so please don’t believe everything you read in the media)
- You propose to license all landlords. We can see advantages and disadvantages to that and our membership are not against a ‘light touch’ registration system which requires all landlords to be registered. What we worry about are more licensing schemes such as those introduced in the city since 2010, which cost ‘good landlords’ significant money (which unfortunately gets passed onto tenants as increased rent) and time yet have done nothing to improve standards or to weed out the rogues who ignore these regulations.
- We will also recommend that any scheme you introduce looks carefully at letting agents on the basis that we see more unhappy tenants and landlords where a poor agent is involved than not, unfortunately anyone can setup as an agent and to do the job properly: maintain high standards, keep the paperwork in order, etc takes time and skill which many do not possess
- On the subject of HMO licensing, all we can suggest is that before jumping to policy conclusions, do please look at the evidence:
- All 5 person or larger HMO’s are already licensed nationally since last October
- Smaller HMO’s (3 or 4 people) in Southsea were licensed until the scheme ended last August
- The scheme that ended was in place for 5 years and during that time, complaints about HMO’s, parking, anti-social behaviour and rubbish increased rather than decreased, showing that licensing had no effect
- However, the number of complaints received about HMO’s on any subject are and always have been very low (1 or 2 per typical month which is not bad for 4,000+ properties and much better than comparable figures for social housing in the city)
- If we have a key message, it is that many people blame ‘HMOs’ or behave irrationally about HMO’s and whilst some deserve a bad press, the vast majority meet a need – providing shared housing for the large number of people who cannot afford a whole house to themselves, and most are well behaved and cause no problems within the community
- Free waste passes would be great. We have had a running battle over the years as we cannot even move our tenants waste for them, as it is classed as ‘trade waste’ as soon as we touch it. Totally ridiculous!
- We already have a code of practice and would welcome feedback on how it should be extended or enhanced if it is less than any of the local campaigners would like it to be
- And as previously stated, do not forget local letting agents if you plan to bring in liaison officers or training.
- And we will happily work with and support any HMO task force that is put in place
One small correction: Your paper states, “turn 2 or 3 bed homes into HMO’s with 9 or 10 occupants going against…. 5%” Please be aware that Portsmouth’s communal space requirements are nearly treble those of Bournemouth, Brighton, Southampton or many other cities, so if an HMO ends up housing 10 occupants you can rest assured that the planning system has ensured that it has been extensively extended to meet the excessive space specs defined locally. We don’t believe the current rules work, as they encourage this sort of development, but we will happily discuss improvements. And it is 10%, not 5% HMO density.
If anyone would like data or evidence to help support or refine their view of how to improve the lot of all of the residents in their area, we will be happy to help and should anyone wish to talk to our members, ask them questions or just get into a debate, they will be very welcome, just let me know."