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The Scourge of Multiple-Occupancy Housing


A house with rooms to let
A house with rooms to let

This picture is of a scourge in housing that blights Spalding – the multiple-occupancy house. One of the greatest gifts that a combination of Brexit and Covid gave me was the massive reduction in multiple occupancy houses in my area. This is an area that South Holland District Council has a legal responsibility to police. Whether they do or not I very much doubt. Indeed, I know of seven garages and a garden shed that were at one time rented out with blatant signs visible from the street.


Turning to my own street, consider that only one house down my road has more than three bedrooms and nearly all have only one bathroom which includes the toilet. The street used to be totally clogged with vehicles with some dwellings having up to eight vehicles. This results in an overcrowded street with green spaces parked on. Some three bedroom houses had at least eight people. Shift work made it a very noisy street at all hours. Drink and drug activity increased as did unreported crimes of violence, vandalism and robbery as overcrowded occupancy and various conflicts ensued. One Sunday early 2015 I noted of the 284 cars parked down the street 91 showed as having either no MOT or road tax, 68 of the cars had foreign plates. This was possibly peak. A further problem was rubbish. Multiple occupancy houses had up to 10 black bags of rubbish compared to my typical 1 or 2. In addition fly tipping increased, especially beer cans and wine bottles. Also, as they vacated the unscrupulous "landlords" would clear the property of left behind rubbish by either dumping it on a street corner or, in one case that I followed and successfully challenged, a lay by just off the Spalding bypass. One friend that had multiple occupancy neighbours had to challenge the landlord of the property, when the owner turned up he did not know the house was being "sub-let" as multiple occupancy.


Talking to some of the occupants of the "multiple occupancy" housing the conditions were poor with no regulatory compliance. Faulty boilers not working, leaking plumbing and general poor maintenance were serious in at least a few of the houses. Often the occupancy was linked to their jobs with rents taken out of their wages - a practice that falls outside the code of gang labour.


2019 wet winter saw a fall in occupancy as their was less work. The area was improving. Possibly at a human cost as that winter I encountered a group of homeless "land-workers" huddling together in the archway near the old post office building and lack of work had cost them their accommodation. Because they were here illegally they dare not ask for help because they were aware that to do so may involve an undertaking for them to return to their home country. The first lock down saw many parties, assaults (mostly unreported) and youngsters parading down the street at night asking where they could buy coke and cannabis as their supply had dried up ( certainly some nights the air was thick with the smell of the latter). As covid and travel restrictions changed many made difficult decisions as to where their hearts lay and returned to their homelands. Multiple occupancy greatly reduced and those that remain are generally of good order. The reduction of multiple occupancy is evidenced by no more than one car per household being the street average and a much calmer and quieter street. Long may this remain.

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