A self-styled property investor known as “HMO Daddy” has been the subject of an enforcement notice by the local council after flouting planning rules.
Jim Haliburton owns about 150 properties in the Midlands which he runs as HMOs. His empire includes buildings at 51 to 53 Wolverhampton Street in Willenhall and 16 Butts Road in St Matthew’s. The two properties have 22 single bedrooms between them and have been used for as HMOs for more than a year.
But now Walsall Council has issued enforcement action for the properties to be returned to their original state. This means the tenants will have to leave within two months and fixtures and fittings will be ripped out.
The authority’s planning committee has signed off on enforcement slamming Haliburton, who runs Darlaston-based J9 Accommodation which manages more than 900 bedsit rooms, for ‘completely ignoring housing legislation’ as well as failing to conduct fire risk assessments.
When questioned why he had not applied for planning permission, Haliburton told the committee the process was ‘too time-consuming.’
He said: “The only thing I’m guilty of is turning empty derelict buildings and turning them into low-cost valuable housing for working residents, which can only be good for the area.
“Applying for planning permission is a long process and very time-consuming but the quality of accommodation I provide is of the highest standard, going over and above fire safety procedures.”
But despite Haliburton’s protestations, complaints were first made about the two buildings in April last year. Since then applications have been made to formally ‘change the use’ but both have been rejected by the council.
Councillors Ian Shires and Sean Coughlan criticised Mr Haliburton for not going through the correct planning procedures. Councillor Coughlan said: “This has been going on for longer than it should. We wouldn’t have known about this issue if people hadn’t of contacted us. It’s not acceptable to simply not comply and ignore housing legislation. But personally, walking past the Wolverhampton Street site this week, the amount of rubbish outside was unbelievable.”