Communities and Local Government CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Lorraine Barter

My Comments

Regarding the aspect of houses in multiple occupation, the areas in which they predominate have become significant in the fact that daily or almost daily some kind of crime incident, burglary, drug dealing, anti-social behaviour linked to the use of the night time economy, damage to cars and gardens, illegal alcohol street drinking as clubbers make their way to venues and excessive noise from clubbers returning home all through the night.

An example of this disgrace is the Polygon area of Southampton, a 90% student ghetto, from where the long term residents have been driven out over the past 20 years due to Solent student colonisation.

Despite the best efforts of community groups, the Council, police and the Solent University itself, even the Uni paying for an extra police person some nights, there are still some unsolved problems.

Some landlords try to curb such ASB, but many are unreachable and may not know of their house occupiers bad behaviour.

Despite the best efforts of all concerned the fact is that tenants are awarded too many rights, when they behave badly the landlords have no way of evicting them without lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

This proves impossible for controlling anti social noisy students who leave anyway before an eviction order can be issued.

The answer would be to have tenancies for three or six months, to be extended if the behaviour is acceptable to landlords and has not annoyed neighbours.

Below I add a few example months of my yearly incident diary (dates on left) to show the scale of the problem in Polygon:

September 2012

4 Bins kicked over in Harborough.

5 Smashed window at HMO 76 Wilton Ave.

Broken bottles in Coventry and Wilton.

Wing mirror damaged in Milton.

8 Same in Burton.

Same in Wilton Ave.

10 Vomit in Milton cutway.

Human droppings nearby.

18 Bottles in several roads.

19 Police in Harborough and Wilton in day.

Noisy last night in Kenilworth.

23 Three lots of shouting from Newcombe and police called at 04.00 re loud bangs and crashes.

24 12 bottles found in Wilton and Milton.

Bed base thrown around in Harborough.

25 Bottles in Morris and Coventry.

26 Shouting in Harborough during night, three bed bases thrown in road and motor bike knocked over.

28 Noisy last night in Kenilworth.

October

3 Daytime loud music from HMO 23 Harborough Road.

5 Shouting and night noise at HMO 44 Harborough.

Bins over in Sandhurst Road and Newcombe.

6 Daytime loud music and annoying behaviour at HMO 64 Devonshire.

Loud night music at HMO 67 Newcombe.

7 Bin over in Rockstone Place.

10 Police at HMO 26 Harborough at 21.20 I spoke to girls there about garden noise. They did quieten.

11 Kept awake by girls and one shouting, lost her key 02.50 to 04.20 at HMO 73 Newcombe.

Car wing mirror cover off in Harborough.

13 Shouting and music at HMO 38 Harborough 04.15 to 06.15 and man from there urinating on pavement at 05.15.

14 Two burnt out green wheelie bins seen at HMOs 44 and 50 Wilton Ave.

15 Spoke to HMO landlord in Harborough re his students night noise nuisance.

Awoken during night by visitors to HMO 73 Newombe.

16 Car mirror damaged in Wilton, gave owner of Posh Pads details of their students night noise nuisance in Newcombe.

17 Smashed bottles Newcombe and in Wilton alley, eight HMOs in Wilton have many uncollected black sacks, loose refuse in front gardens.

Car mirror damaged in Harborough.

18 Same in Holt Road.

Night noise, shouting, chanting, drinking and kicking car by men on Carnage from student HMO 27 Harborough.

19 Smashed front window at HMO 66 Wilton Avenue (told it was burglary).

20 Bottles around in Harborough,Newcombe and Wilton.

22 Damaged brick gatepost 70 Burlington, cat keyed by phone box, night time party in road The Polygonclose down by Council and Police.

24 Woken by drunken men shouting at 01.50, 15 minutes of noisy crowd returning to HMO 27 approx 03.35, smashed bottle sin Newcombe and three other roads.

27 Two smashed bottles in Wilton, spoke to HMO 40 Harborough twice about loud music.

Music from HMO 29 Harborough 20.30 for 12 hours, guests arriving/leaving on foot and five taxis 03.35–05.15 on 28th.

30 Smashed bottle in Fitzugh alley.

31 Wing mirror damaged in Wilton, reported two messy HMO gardens there and another in Henstead Road, bin kicked over in Henstead last night.

November

1 Smashed bottle and new graffiti in Fitzhugh cut on back wall of 82 Milton Road.

2 Egg thrown at sports car in Newcombe Road.

3 Woken by men shouting and kicking over bin in Newcombe during night. Three burglaries in Milton Road this week.

4 Car wing mirror broken off in Wilton.

7 Middle of last night crowd shouting in Sandhurst and at Newcombe corner.

Report of woman assaulted in Fitzhugh alley.

8 Man arrested at 05.30 for smashing two windows at shops in London Road near Crown Court.

Bottles rolling around in Wilton, Harborough, Kenilworth and Sandhurst.

9

Milton Road report: Noise from students in the steet between 11 and midnight was horrendous, shouting and screaming along Milton and then a mass of them down Holt Rd. All wearing the same T shirts with what looked like black braces over on some of them. Was woken up at 3.15 by noise from back cut and saw a big crowd heading home up Milton Rd to the Dell.

10 Four bottles and one smashed in Wilton Ave.

With so many HMOs in rows, in some cases 40–50 or more unbroken by family homes the Noise Nuisance service becomes useless as the EHO officers cannot get near enough to the noise for it to be suitable for noise abatement.

For instance 15 months noise suffered from an HMO, in other cases for periods of more than a year at HMOs and no guarantee of long term solution despite intervention of police and ASB Team. I suppose that nothing will be done until someone gets injured or killed in a brawl over house noise, the Council and police tell me not to go out during the night and deal with noisy drunken or drugged HMO dwellers/students but no one is available for doing anything constructive to stop the noise at the time of the nuisance. In 20 years of me doing this work, only four houses have NOT been student occupied, therefore students in HMOs are the main constant and ongoing nuisance. In the last two weeks have had only four nights unbroken sleep due to student bad behaviour and night time loud music.

January 2013

Prepared 16th July 2013