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Torbay properties in prime locations 'with tenants sharing facilities'

By Herald Express  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

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OFFICIAL figures have confirmed the number of low-rent shared accommodation properties is on the increase in Torbay.

It is claimed properties in prime seafront locations such as Paignton seafront are operating as houses in multiple accommodation with tenants sharing facilities.

Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of the English Riviera Tourism Company, said "The problem is the number of unlicensed houses of multiple occupation.

"It's operators which choose to take people in, under cover if you like, for four years and then the authorities have to give them a licence. It's getting a licence through the back door.

"Enforcement is a question of resources. You would have to have a whole department monitoring the situation.

"Neighbours are reporting their concerns and I understand more money is being spent on the issue and the council has a team looking at it, but it's not an easy thing to establish evidence.

"In Blackpool, officers walked every street to find out the extent of the problem. One of the biggest giveaways is when there is more than doorbell.

"But not all HMOs are bad, for example executive shared houses in cities and student accommodation and that can work well.

"Obviously the rise in the number of HMOs is not unique to Torbay. Every seaside resort has them because resorts are nice places to live when you are on benefits.

"If you had choice of picking up your benefits in Birmingham or Bournemouth, where are you going to go?"

She said they and Torbay Council were aware of reports of alleged change of use in one property in Paignton Esplanade.

"We want to rejuvenate that promenade, it's the town's shop front. The issue of HMOs within the core development areas need to be addressed. That should be a priority."

The board has objected to proposals in the new local plan to prevent holiday accommodation being converted to residential outside core development areas.

Mrs Custerson said: "The board still believes that there is an over supply of 'poor quality' serviced accommodation in particular.

"We are aware that one of the political arguments being presented is the concern in the increase in the number of HMOs in Torbay.

"We share this concern but we think this issue — which relates essentially to the policing and enforcement of existing policies — should not be allowed to distort the development of the resort overall.

"As such a 'common sense' approach is requested moving forwards, including increased consultation with the company regarding applications for change of use so that jointly we can work to protect our key tourism assets as well as allowing the resort to evolve."

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  • melezee  |  November 16 2012, 11:58AM

    Oxford is another town like Blackpool wih HMO problems,(homes in muliple occupation) where a licence is required to ensure the landlord is a fit and proper person,and the proerty is suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence, that any vulnerable tenant is protected.and the property is kept in good and safe order to help stop any anit-social behavior and improve the quality of HMO housing rental stock in the town.

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  • dkkat50  |  November 16 2012, 11:21AM

    Yes it is true , In the northern seaside town of Blackpool, Town Hall officials do walk the streets and look for BB accomodation owners,who have changed the property into cheap bedsits,for people out-of work on benefits who came to live in the town.they have found that many a property that were once a 15 bed BB for holiday guest. have been changed into cheap bed-sits and of course each bed sit has its own door bell ,so you can find up to 10 door bells, and in some cases ten letter box,s. This has caused many anti-social problems with drink and drugs, which you may have seen on Channel 4, " 999 What is Your Emergency,"which is screened on monday nights.All these problems did a lot of harm to the towns family tourist trade, and the town is now trying to sort out all theses problems and rebuild the town .

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  • Azriel22  |  November 16 2012, 9:56AM

    It's been clear throughout the country that small B&B's have had their day and people's preference, judging by their huge popularity and expansion, lie in modern facilities as provided by Premier Inns etc. Ridiculous rules applied by out-of-touch, time-serving, control-freak bureaucrats and councillors have stopped many of these quite substantial properties being converted back to lovely family homes - for those that can afford the price - or converted into two or three reasonably priced flats. Multi-occupation in bed-sitting rooms should have been consigned to history in any so called civilised society.

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  • Othursty1  |  November 16 2012, 8:22AM

    Carolyn Custerson, chief executive of the English Riviera Tourism - what exactly are you trying to say when you say: "In Blackpool, officers walked every street to find out the extent of the problem. One of the biggest giveaways is when there is more than doorbell. Like what - a wall or front door might be attached to the doorbell!!!!!!! In even more shocking cases, a house might even be attached to a doorbell. What a big giveaway. If this is your biggest giveaway then I don't think you are every going to get to the route of the problem.