Ipswich clamps down on landlords carrying out dangerous conversions

Carole Jones said the borough was getting a reputation for taking a tough line with dangerous develo

Carole Jones said the borough was getting a reputation for taking a tough line with dangerous developments in the town. Picture: SU ANDERSON - Credit: Su Anderson

Ipswich could be turned into a no-go zone for landlords making dangerous alterations to houses to turn them into homes of multiple occupation (HMOs).

Planning permission is not required to turn an ordinary house into a HMO if extensions are built within "permitted development".

But HMOs are required to get a licence from the local authority if they rent out rooms to five or more people who are not related to them.

And any alterations to houses do have to be approved by building inspectors to ensure they do not compromise the structure of the build by, for instance, removing supporting walls.

This week's meeting of the borough's planning and development committee heard that HMO sites at Coniston Square and Bramford Lane were found to be in a very dangerous condition by the Health and Safety Executive.

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These sites were linked to other HMOs in the town. Prohibition notices were served and the borough was planning to closely monitor the work to restore the dangerous parts of the building.

Portfolio holder for planning Carole Jones said the council's development control team was now getting a reputation among those looking to convert houses into HMOs for their vigilance.

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She said: "We are being proactive on this with our teams looking for people who might be doing work before they start getting into trouble.

"And people doing this work know that Ipswich isn't a place where they can get away with things like completing sub-standard repairs or conversions into HMOs."

The move comes as concern about the growth of HMOs in the town increases.

Earlier this month the Ipswich Society warned that HMO landlords were taking advantage of the "permitted development" rules to change the character of some streets in the town by converting traditional homes and making them unavailable to young families.

Society chairman John Norman pointed out that once one or two properties in a street had been converted, families started to move away because of the disruption that could be caused by tenants of an HMO arriving and leaving their home at all hours - and that led to more vacant homes being converted into HMOs.

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