For a long time I have been campaigning for local councils like Southampton to have more powers to manage houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Over the past 10 years we have had numerous government ministers, visits and promises but very little action.
As university numbers have increased, local residents, particularly those in the Portswood & the Polygon areas of Southampton, have sought to limit the further development of HMOs in the city, particularly to protect family homes which we know are essential for strong communities.
I am pleased that, after years of lobbying by local people, the city council and local councillors, the government has now signalled that it will act, with changes coming into force in April to require new HMOs to have planning permission.
The only information that Southampton City Council has received so far about this is a government press release. We are awaiting further details. I hope that the government is not rushing this initiative through and is clear about the detail. This is a very important problem for the city and, so long as the detail is right I will be welcoming this change as I feel that councils should have powers to tackle the issue in areas where it is an acute problem, such as in Southampton.
We need to ensure that we get the balance right between controlling problem HMOs and ensuring that housing needs are properly met for all groups in the city.