FEARS that an expected rise in demand for rented accommodation could lead to anti-social behaviour and a higher burden on taxpayers has prompted the council to consider restricting the number of shared houses.

The authority is hoping to use legislation to block attempts to convert properties into homes in multiple occupation (HMOs), where between three and six unrelated people share some rooms.

There is concern that a proposed cap on housing benefit could push people from more expensive central areas into shared properties in cheaper outer London boroughs.

The single room rent housing benefit restriction for those aged under 25 will be extended to include those under 35.

This means that any single private tenants up to that age can claim for only a council-set cost for a single room with shared toilet and kitchen facilities, and themselves would be required to make up the difference between the benefit and actual cost of their rent.

This could lead to a rise in anti-social behaviour, noise disturbance and waste in Redbridge, according to a council report.

HMOs “are likely to contain some of the worst physical conditions and management practices”, it states.

On Monday (September 5) the Local Development Framework Advisory Committee is due to discuss the possibility of introducing an Article 4 Direction, which requires permission to be sought to turn a residential property into an HMO.

But the authority would be required to prove there are significant problems associated with a concentration of HMOs.

Of the 94,172 properties in Redbridge, only 48 are currently registered as HMOs.

Wanstead has just one recorded HMO, while Snaresbrook has three.

Billie Figg, of the Wanstead Society, said: “It’s an issue deserving of debate.

“It can encourage the like of people who won’t have a long-term stake in the town or they could be occupied by young, deserving people who want to stay in the area because they love it but perhaps can’t afford to buy.”

Cllr Robin Turbefield, cabinet member for housing, said: “It would be wrong of us not to discuss the potential of what might happen in the future as a result of any policy."

The cabinet member for planning and regeneration, Cllr Nick Hayes, added: “HMOs in a particular area can change the character of certain places and we wouldn’t want that happening without some degree of control.”

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