Links between HMOs and crime in South Tyneside to come under the spotlight in investigation

Possible links between houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and crime are set to be discussed by councillors this week.

Monday, 19th August 2019, 4:14 pm
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 5:19 pm
South Shields Town Hall

South Tyneside Council’s Place Select Committee launched a probe into HMOs in the borough earlier in 2019.

Concerns included growing numbers living in shared flats, houses and hostels and the ‘poor support’ available for vulnerable people in the private rented sector.

During the commission sessions, common themes have included antisocial behaviour and issues around quality of care / management.

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Councillor Ernest Gibson

While council housing bosses have admitted complaints about HMOs are on the rise, they said this could be linked to an improved complaints system.

Councillors will have the opportunity to quiz council bosses on potential crime issues around HMOs at a meeting on August 22.

This will include a council community safety officer / domestic violence coordinator giving an update at South Shields Town Hall.

According to committee papers, the discussion will revolve around the “mapping of crime and anti-social behaviour incidents within the locality of HMOs.”

Under new laws which came into force last year, all HMOs need to be licenced by local authorites.

Currently, a HMO licence lasts for five years with the council carrying out inspections on living standards and fire safety.

During the commission. several ideas to tackle HMO issues have been raised by councillors.

This includes regular reviews of licences, providing more social housing, ‘mapping’ all private HMO locations and increased supervision for tenants with complex needs.

When the HMO commission concludes, it will present a list of recommendations to help influence and improve council policies in future years.

Newly-appointed Place Select Committee chairman, Coun Ernest Gibson, took over the scrutiny project earlier this year.

“It is important that we discuss issues regarding housing and ensure that we are supporting those in need to the best of our ability,” he said.

“I look forward to receiving an update and hearing everybody’s views and recommendations at the meeting.”

The meeting starts at 4.30pm and members of the public are welcome to attend.