A meeting tomorrow will be asked to radically improve the governance and inspection of homes of multiple occupation (HMOs) in Eastbourne.

At the borough’s full council meeting, Conservative group leader, Robert Smart, will press for an independent report into the matter to be made public.

A consultant’s report reveals that the number of such properties licensed in Eastbourne has risen by 70 per cent since 2015, from 188 to 318. On top of which there are also many unlicensed properties housing five occupants or less.

A draft study was released in June last year (2023) and now Cllr Smart says it’s time to see the final documents, specifically to discuss its conclusions and possible intervention options to deal with this issue.

A dramatic rise in the number of premises in Eastbourne used as houses of multiple occupation is leading to anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping and making it harder to build communities. That was the view of the town’s Scrutiny Committee as long ago as July 2022. It also “felt that all HMOs should be run to an agreed standard and held to account where those standards failed”.

Conservative councillors on the Scrutiny Committee have been seeking greater control and enforcement of the town’s HMOs for several years.

The problem is widespread and Cllr Nigel Goodyear has witnessed the growth of HMOs in Devonshire West. “As a long-time trustee of both Leaf Hall and Eastbourne Blind Society I know how concerned local residents are at the seemingly uncontrolled and unregulated rise in HMO numbers and the problems they can cause to the local community”, he says.

Pictured: Cllr Robert Smart outside one of the latest HMOs to be licensed.