Leeds HMO Lobby


Leeds HMO Lobby

What is a HMO?

The Lobby

Local Action
Policy Papers
Studentification in Leeds

National Action
Use Classes Order
HMO Licensing
Students & Community

National HMO Lobby

Leeds HMO Lobby



Representation on
Making the Housing Ladder Work

1 Leeds HMO Lobby is an association of associations, a coalition of all the local community groups in Inner NW Leeds concerned about the impact on their communities of concentrations of HMOs. One of those impacts is the loss of access to affordable homes by the community. The Lobby therefore welcomes the Affordable Housing Plan in Making the Housing Ladder Work, produced by the Affordable Housing Task Force set up by Neighbourhoods & Housing.

2 Leeds HMO Lobby endorses the Affordable Housing Plan as a whole. Many of the measures advocated in Section 4 (see p16) are already in play in Inner NW Leeds, as a consequence of the loss of affordable housing.
2.1 An ‘Evidence-Based’ Approach: a Housing Market Research Project is under way in Inner NW Leeds, led by Dr Rachel Unsworth (Leeds University), supported by local stakeholders, and to be funded by local housing agencies.
2.2 Planning Policy: the Revised UDP has introduced an ‘Area of Housing Mix’ into Inner NW Leeds, in order to rectify the imbalance in the local housing market
2.3 Integration of Housing & Planning: this has long been advocated by Leeds HMO Lobby, for instance, in the proposal for Diversity Zones in Inner NW Leeds. But action on the specific local problem of HMOs is disabled by the lack of integration of national housing and planning legislation.

3 Leeds HMO Lobby advocates optimum use of the city’s housing stock. The majority of the Affordable Housing Plan is devoted to the promotion of new-build housing. But the Plan entirely overlooks significant abuse of the housing stock of Leeds.
3.1 A substantial proportion of the city’s stock of houses is used, not for people’s main residence, but as second homes. Doubtless, scattered through the green belt north of the city there are occasional country cottages used as second-homes by city-dwellers. But in fact the predominant majority of second-homes are located in Inner NW Leeds. Here, whole streets are occupied on a seasonal basis only. This is especially the case in the terraced streets of South and Central Headingley, where more than two-thirds of properties are second-homes (Chestnut Avenue, Manor Drive, for example), but it is also true of semi-detached estates (40% of the Buckinghams, for instance). Total numbers have been estimated at 5,000 houses. The reason for this of course is the demand for accommodation by the students of the city’s two universities.*
3.2 The immediate effect of the appropriation of the local housing stock for second-homes is that it wipes out the local housing ladder (p5). In fact, accommodation in & around Headingley is largely reduced to two extremes – single rooms in HMOs at inflated rents, or market housing far in excess of affordability (equal to Wetherby, p8).
3.3 The knock-on effect of the huge demand for second-homes in & around Headingley is the destabilisation of the local community, the loss of a ‘sustainable mixed community’ (p10). First of all, the population has become polarised – in what was once a very diverse neighbourhood, now the overwhelming majority of the population is from a very narrow demographic. And sustainability is undermined further by the nature of that demographic – it is young, and because it occupies second-homes, it is seasonal and transient.

4 Leeds HMO Lobby proposes that Making the Housing Ladder Work includes measures in addition to those detailed in Section 4, specifically to address the appropriation of the city’s housing stock for second-homes. (The Report of the Affordable Rural Housing Commission 2006 may suggest other measures.)
4.1 Re’sist: the adoption of measures to discourage second-home appropriation. A number of measures are already in place in Inner NW Leeds, including the Area of Housing Mix and Mandatory HMO Licensing. It is generally acknowledged that these have had an impact on numbers of second-home HMOs. They could be reinforced by Additional HMO Licensing, and further planning measures (for instance, an Inner NW Area Action Plan, advocated by the Area Committee, but not yet on the LDF agenda.) (Amendment of the Use Classes Order would make an invaluable contribution to integration of housing and planning policy.)
4.2 Re’direct: the diversion of the demand for second-homes by students towards purpose-built development. In fact, numerous such developments have recently come on-stream, and have had a significant impact on second-home HMOs in Inner NW Leeds (330 unlet properties in LS6, 19% of properties in Headingley, according to Unipol). Further encouragement of purpose-built development is necessary to subvert use of the local stock as second-homes.
4.3 Re’vive: intervention into the housing market in & around Headingley pro-actively, to return second-homes to affordable housing. Leeds HMO Lobby has no illusions about the difficulty of doing so. The Lobby suggests a sub-group of the Affordable Housing Task Force to address this problem in particular. Among other initiatives, the role of a Community Land Trust, established jointly by Headingley Development Trust, Housing Associations and Leeds City Council, might be considered.

5 Leeds HMO Lobby recommends that Inner NW Leeds is designated a priority area (p21), within which a Headingley Housing Ladder is developed (p18).

* Note: Student Second Homes Student houses owned by their parents fall within the Survey of English Housing’s definition of second home: “privately-owned accommodation that is not occupied by anyone as their main residence but does get occupied from time to time, e.g. a holiday home.” Of course, these are a minority of student houses. But all other student houses (those let by landlords) are de facto second-homes, occupied on a seasonal basis (like holiday lets). The fact that all of these are second-homes is amply demonstrated, first, by the desertion of the area during vacations, when their occupants ‘go home’ (whole streets are in darkness at Christmas), and secondly, by the establishment of the Freshers Week/Student Exodus Planning Group (by the Inner NW Area Committee) in order to tackle the mass migration of students at the beginning and end of the academic year. The local combination of landlord lets and parent purchases are the urban equivalent of the holiday lets and holiday homes which undermine rural and coastal honey-pot locations.

Leeds HMO Lobby, 8 January 2007

See also, Student Accommodation and Affordable Housing in Leeds, 2008


Leeds HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk/leeds