All over Wycombe there are ‘houses of multiple occupancy’ or ‘buy to lets’ where landlords buy a house then let the rooms to separate individuals for profit.
They were the ultimate get rich scheme with very little effort or risk involved. Anyone could jump on the bandwagon and many people did.
Coming to prominence in the housing boom of the late 1980’s the ‘buy to let homes’ may provide short term accommodation to those unable to afford a home of their own but your humble servant fears there is a downside to their presence.
Firstly every buy to let property is a home that a family is unable to buy therefore pushing up house prices beyond the reach of all but the most wealthy.
Surely those looking for just a room would be better off in a purpose built flat thus freeing up the large three and four bedroomed homes of the town for families for whom the properties were designed.
Secondly there are the parking problems which come with a house that has so many diverse occupants in residence.
For example, let’s consider a typical 1930’s semi-detached home that has three bedrooms and two reception rooms. This would be let to perhaps four separate individuals. Each would bring their own car that ends up being parked in the road.
Now, let’s suppose each of the four people also has a vehicle for their work, such as a van, truck or flat-bed lorry which they also take back to the property and leave in the road overnight.
This brings the number of vehicles associated with one property to eight many of which will be left in the road nearby overnight and at weekends causing parking problems for neighbours in the vicinity.
Ah, I hear you say that eight vehicles seems rather a lot. Well, not every house of multiple occupancy has that many but some do. Four or five vehicles is quite common place at a semi-detached 1930’s home that was originally designed for a normal 1930’s family for whom cars were a luxury and most home owners did not have a vehicle.
Just take a tour around Castlefield, Micklefield, Downley or any other residential part of Wycombe during the evening and see all the white vans, car transporters, taxis and delivery lorries parked beside the road.
So what can be done to stop the menace of excessive vehicles at houses of multiple occupancy?
Well, I think it’s about time a central register of houses of multiple occupancy was created and made available to the public.
There are so many families desperate for a home yet greedy landlords are using some of the towns finest houses to let to multiple people for their own profit, surely this is socially and morally wrong?
It’s about time that before a house can be put into multiple occupancy the owner of the property should have to apply for planning permission. That way residents could object, raise concerns and have their voice heard.
There should also be strict planning controls and regulations on the number of vehicles that can be present at a house of multiple occupancy.
If the powers that be brought in stricter controls on houses of multiple occupancy the housing shortage could be solved overnight and the parking problems in most residential roads would disappear too.
What do you think?
*My blogs are published every Tuesday and Friday evening around 8.00pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.