THE NOTTINGHAM ACTION GROUP ON HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION
What ♦ Who ♦ Why ♦ How
The Nottingham Action Group on HMOs - 'the NAG' - is a formally-constituted, solely run by volunteers, association of people living in neighbourhoods across a large part of the City of Nottingham, as well as in the adjacent towns of Beeston and West Bridgford.
Some are members/officers of local residents' associations. However, very many are not.
Although our neighbourhoods are as different from one another as we are, what they have in common are the problems caused by concentrations of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – shared houses with absentee landlords and short-term, highly transient tenants.
What we have in common is the feeling that, as individual residents, people have little or no say in what local and national government, higher education establishments, investors and developers are planning and doing, even though decisions made by them directly affect us, our families, friends and neighbours, and the future of the neighbourhoods and communities we live in. As individuals, whether members of local associations or not, we have little or no voice or influence. However, we believe that coming together as a group gives us a voice and the ability to have a meaningful say in what happens in our neighbourhoods.
It is difficulty to pinpoint exactly when the momentum that led to the formal constitution of the NAG in February 2004 began to build. A lot of what happened then came about almost by accident rather than intent, with contacts forming between people who, as a rule, would not have been expected to meet, but who did and who, by pooling their resources, and energy, and expertise, began to shape what became the NAG.
No doubt opinions will vary as to exactly when that momentum became sufficient to trigger the formation of the NAG. However, in February 2003, Nottingham University hosted the launch of a report commissioned by Nottingham City Council’s Area 4 Committee into the effects of what we now call ‘studentification’. That launch brought together some of the people who then facilitated a meeting on 14 August 2003 with Alan Simpson (then MP for the Nottingham South Constituency). Although it had been arranged at relatively short notice, it brought together more than 70 residents. However, the meeting on 18 November 2003 of the QMC Forum, is generally recognised as the seminal event that finally triggered the constitution of the NAG a few months later.
The notes of that meeting can be downloaded here:
♦At this point it is appropriate to include an update. Latterly the increasing development of purpose built student accommodation in our neighbourhoods is adding to the well-documented problems caused by HMOs, and further exacerbating the feeling that - as Nottingham's two universities continue to expand their undergraduate student intakes - our needs and those of our neighbourhoods once again are being set aside
The National HMO Lobby
The NAG is one of around 60 groups which together form the National HMO Lobby (www.hmolobby.org.uk). One of the Lobby’s strengths has always been that its members, by exchanging experiences and information, are able to highlight problems of common concern, support one another, share high and low moments, and help to give a voice and visibility to the common issues that face us.
By working together with their local MPs, council representatives and officers, they have been able to influence – and indeed change – local and national planning and housing legislation. For example, on a national level the joint lobbying of members, councillors and MPs was pivotal in bringing about the introduction into planning legislation of the C4 (small HMO) Use Class which remains the single most important tool local authorities have in controlling the expansion and further concentration of HMOs.
In the City of Nottingham, after government changes in September 2010 made the change of use from 'family home' (Use Class C3) to small HMO (C4) a permitted development, and therefore not requiring planning permission, the NAG's active support helped in the introduction of an Article 4 Direction. This, by removing the permitted development status, allowed the Council's planners, as had been originally intended, to exercise control over newly proposed conversions to C4 HMOs.
One of the sources of information about planning, housing and other topics surrounding HMOs, and the work the NAG has been involved with, both in co-operation with the HMO Lobby and as an Nottingham-focused organisation, is the NAG magazine, back issues of which can be found on the NAG 'Publications' page of the NAG website, along with the NAG NewsDesk, and responses to a variety of national and Nottingham consultations.
The ability of the HMO Lobby to highlight issues was never been more important than when, in 'studentified' neighbourhoods in university towns and cities in the UK, the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic heightened existing and long-held residents’ concerns about the impact of student migration and behaviour on them, their families, friends and neighbours. A local example is ‘A Letter Expressing Concerns About the End of the Academic Year 2019-2020 & the New Academic Year 2020-2021’, a compilation based on the experiences and observations of individual NAG members, representatives of the Arboretum Residents’ & Tenants’ Association (ARTA), the Berrymede (North Sherwood Street) Neighbourhood Group, the Portwell (Portland Road-Cromwell Street) Residents’ Group, and the Lenton Drives & Neighbours Residents’ Association (LDNRA):
The NAG, like other members of the Lobby, continues to try and focus attention on these issues, exchanging information with other members and helping the co-ordinator to prepare submissions to government and other bodies, and to the press. A recent example relating to the pandemic, prepared with input from members, is the Lobby co-ordinator's response to papers published by government scientific advisers. These contained serious misconceptions about the threat of Covid-19 in relation to universities, a threat which unfortunately materialised in September-October 2020. See: National HMO Lobby Response to SAGE Papers on Higher Education & Covid-19.
What of the Future?
These continue to be challenging times for all of us. The problems that acted as a catalyst for the formation of the NAG and the other National HMO Lobby members remain. In fact, as abundantly illustrated by media coverage, if anything they have been amplified and brought even more sharply into focus by the coronavirus pandemic. Whilst none of us can change what has happened, perhaps we can aim to become ‘movers and shakers’ and, by influencing what may be going to happen, so help to shape the future of our neighbourhoods, our communities, and our home towns and cities.
For the NAG - not a nice name, but appropriate since what has happened to so many of our neighbourhoods is not nice and, as was pointed out once, the name on the tin says what the NAG does - that future needs to be neighbourhoods that are resilient, balanced and viable, and where people feel happy to put down roots, invest more than money, and contribute to the future of the City of Nottingham and the surrounding area as a whole .
In other words:
‘... places where people want to live and work and learn, now and in the future. ...'
♦See the report of a Round Table meeting on a Vision for Lenton which can be downloaded here:
WHAT IS A HOUSE IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMO)?
An HMO is often also known as a 'shared house'. Put as simply as possible, an HMO is a building, or part of a building, occupied as a main residence by more than one household where a 'household' can be one person or several people provided that they are related to one another. So, for example, a home is probably an HMO if three or more unrelated people live there as at least two separate households, and the people living there share the same amenities such as a kitchen and/or bathroom.
For information about HMOs and legislation relevant to HMOs, visit:
HMO Public Register
Nottingham City Council publish a regularly up-dated Register of Licensed HMOs, which can be downloaded from the appropriate link in this page: http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/HMO. Scroll to, and open up, 'Resources and Documents'. The HMO Public Register is the last item on the list.
Complaints & Advice
Complaints about licensed HMOs can be made directly by e-mailing: email@example.com. For advice or help relating to the condition and management of your privately rented property you can:
Telephone: 0115 915-2020 (Option 4)
Write to: Environmental Health, Community Protection, Nottingham City Council, Loxley House,
Station Street, Nottingham NG2 3NG
FOR YOUR DIARY
NAG MEETINGS & EVENTS
February 2019 Unipol-NAG (U-NAG) Open Meeting: 'Current Trends & Future Developments in the Student Housing Market'
NATIONAL, NOTTINGHAM & NEIGHBOURHOOD: MEETINGS, EXHIBITIONS, CONSULTATIONS & EVENTS
As and when details of exhibitions, consultations,etc. become available, they will be posted in this section of the NAG website
NATIONAL & OTHER NEWS
Nottinghamshire Public Health Expect Speed Up In Rise in Covid-19 Cases When Students Return To Nottingham
As New Academic Year Approaches for Lenton's 'Student Area': Universities Warning Students About Anti-Social Behaviour
It isn't Right ...
Something Has To Be Done ... And Those That Do It Held to Account ...
Quite Simply This Cannot Keep Happening ...
You can view all planning applications by visiting the Planning Applications section of Nottingham City Council's website:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & DISCLAIMER
The Nottingham Action Group on HMOs wishes to thank: Nottingham City Council for funding support; everyone whose contributions (photographs, ideas, articles, work) form part of this website; and Magneto Technologies Ltd (http://magnetoweb.com) for the expertise which has enabled us to set up and maintain this website.
Last, but by no means least, we also thank our neighbours in the National HMO Lobby for their continuing help and support.
The views and opinions expressed in contributions to this website do not necessarily reflect those of the Nottingham Action Group on HMOs, its committee, or its wider membership.
Whilst we endeavour to ensure that reports are accurate, from time to time mistakes may occur. If you feel this is the case, please contact the Nottingham Action Group on HMOs. Information on how to do so is available on the 'Contact Us' page of this website.