Pondering Article Four – Stick It On The Students!

Pondering Article Four – Stick It On The Students!

15:34 PM, 3rd November 2011, About 12 years ago 3

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I was going to write a piece about what to do when an HMO tenant goes AWOL (Absent Without Leave) and disappears off the face the earth.  As an “exciting” read as that sounds, I’d rather pick up on the Article 4 directive that has been publicised today.

Over the last six months quite a few colleagues have pointed me towards Article 4 and I’ve now been forced to put down my copy of “100 interesting facts about being a landlord” and read this piece of legislation properly. I’m now firmly sitting on the fence opinion-wise.


I agree with some of the comments about Article 4 resulting in social engineering and cleansing and can see how, if the policy were introduced across the country, the Government/council could appear guilty of this action.  However, people who live in HMOs are from broad cultural, social and financial backgrounds and it annoys me that it’s assumed they’re all on Housing Benefit and ne’er-do-wells.  To be fair, some are, but 90% of my tenants work hard, save their money for bigger and better things and don’t want to live next door to anti-social neighbours either.  As for lack of community- I have one HMO tenant who uses his pensioners 10% off Wednesday at B&Q so his garden could be in the running for the Daily Mail Garden competition!  All my long-term HMO tenants are house proud and are often found chatting over the garden fence with the neighbours.

If you put all the bad ‘uns in a community together you make a ghetto – isn’t it a good idea to have a mix of people and ideologies who may learn from each other?


There’s an area round the corner from my home full of elegant, Victorian three storey houses in a crescent which has managed to escape any kind of regeneration or mapping as an up and coming area.  My friend, a midwife, rents a house there with her three children and tells me that, whilst she used to have to wear ear plugs whilst she slept at night to ward off the drunken rants outside, she’s now having to wear them during the day as well if she’s on night shift.  She says this is due to the amount of houses being turned into HMOs around her and the lack of respect for the community as neighbours are so transient.


Personally, I believe student HMOs are the biggest culprits in noise and anti-social behaviour.  Remember when you were post-pubescent, legally allowed to consume vast amounts of alcohol and thought that putting a traffic cone on a chimney pot was one of the most hilarious acts alongside stretching cling film over the toilet seat so your roomies splashed themselves?  Working (and some non working) HMO tenants tend to have grown out of pranks that disturb the neighbours and are as keen for a safe, quiet community and home owners.

In the middle

The house I now live in used to be an HMO until I rehomed everyone and refurbished it for my family.  The neighbours say that, with three children, a dog and a cat, we’re far noisier than the HMO tenants and, as you’ll see from this post, we’re bigger consumers of the earth’s resources!  Seriously though, it’s not NIMBYism but I wouldn’t want to live in a street of HMOs and am delighted that my neighbours are far more tolerant than I am!

By all means apply Article 4, but if it were down to me I’d limit it to student properties.

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Mary Latham

17:53 PM, 4th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Compared to the serious ASB that I have seen student horse play is nothing. If we accept that student HMO's are the ones that need to be controlled we must also accept that it is far too late!
Who wants to live in properties where there are high numbers of student homes? Only other students
If a landlord has his application to use a property for a student HMO refused - what other use can this property have? None

I can see no case for the use of an Article 4 direction because all this is is a change of use application - from single occupany to multi occupancy. In established student areas the only single occupiers are usually elderly people who do not have the heart to move to a new home and have become enveloped in student town. When these people pass on those who inherit usually sell the property. Only landlords will buy these property because of the location but if that landlord knows that he will not get permission to let it to students he will not buy. The property will join the empty homes lists and will fall into disrepair.

If article 4 Directions are used in none student areas they will deprive those on low incomes of affordable homes.

There are enough pieces of regulation and legislation to deal with problems associated with HMO's Article 4 is a vote catcher for NIMBY's pure and simple.


22:04 PM, 4th November 2011, About 12 years ago

Fair point, Mary. It's one I've been wondering about whilst reading the local property paper and seeing 3 houses up for sale in the area I was talking about. If they lie empty and become dilapidated they're no good to any community. One of our local student landlords reckons he's increased the property values of a whole street through his renovation of big, old houses into student lets especially where they used to be B&Bs and are unsuitable for families due to limited street parking and patio gardens.

Mary Latham

12:05 PM, 5th November 2011, About 12 years ago

In my opinion many local authorities reach for the big sticks before they identify the cause of problems.

Selective licensing - how will that solve ABS problems? It is not the landlord who causes the behaviour and a landlord, who struggles to get the tenant to pay rent, certainly has no power, nor in fact training, to control a tenants behaviour.
Article 4 I have already made my point above.

We ALL need to discuss the problems and identify the actual cause and find solutions.

In the West Midlands the Homestamp consortium (see http://www.homestamp.com) are working on a major project this year to identify the causes and solutions to ASB. We are doing this because the issues cross all tenure and affects the lives of many communities. Landlord, local authorities and police will be looking at this issue and we will find answers - we must find answers because ASB cannot be allowed to continue. The message in the West Midlands will be "We will not tolerate ASB and we will not allow people to move from one tenure to another without modifying their behaviour".

We will put the blame where it lies - that is not with the landlord

It is time for society to say no to ASB and to stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic because we all sink!

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