ROTTING floorboards, crumbling brickwork and sagging joists have been found in Boscombe bedsits undergoing renovation.
To date, Bournemouth council has bought three former houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) in the Churchill Gardens area, uncovering substantial dilapidation and dangerous structural weaknesses.
While two of the properties – which altogether comprised 23 bedsits – are still being renovated, the first tenants from the council housing list have moved into the four self-contained flats of a completed house in Walpole Road.
The council hopes that by replacing HMOs with better quality, self-contained housing it can encourage working families to settle in the area, leading to a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour.
“The transformation won’t take place overnight, but we believe that over time we will bring about considerable improvements in Boscombe with regard to housing,” said ward councillor and cabinet member for regeneration Jane Kelly.
“This is a beautiful area and has so much to offer. We want to bring working families here, people who will stay here and enhance the community, and boost the local economy as well.
“Small units of fairly inexpensive accommodation have their place, more housing is needed for young professionals. There are a huge percentage of HMOs here, we need a better mix.”
When all are completed later this year the three houses will provide ten one, two and three bed flats, managed by the council, and the authority plans to buy a further seven or eight HMOs in Boscombe with around £3.4 million from its housing budget.
Cabinet member for housing Robert Lawton said the properties were being bought at market rates from private landlords.
He said that despite their poor condition, the former owners would not face consequences for their neglect due to the difficulty of proving responsibility for the damage.
However, he added: “When tenants complain to us about the conditions they are living in it triggers an inspection which can lead to enforcement action. A hundred years ago this would have been the place to live. There is no quick fix, but buying and renovating these houses will help to bring the area back to its former glory.”