HMOs and planning law
As reported on this blog previously, landlords and landlords organisations were extremely unhappy at the changes which were brought in to the planning laws on 6 April this year by the last government.
Suspected to have been introduced largely because of problems in one minister’s constituency with ‘studentification’, Labour’s new rules provided a blanket obligation on all landlords of new HMOs to obtain planning permission.
Labour’s changes were brought about by introducing a new C4 planning class which covered all HMOs of up to six people, bringing the definition of HMO for the purposes of planning in line with those used in the Housing Act 2004. However this was strongly criticised as being unnecessarily bureaucratic. Although some areas do have major problems with ‘studentification’, these areas are comparatively few.
The net result, many feared, would be to reduce cheap accommodation for sharers in areas which needed it, as landlords would be deterred by the extra administration and expense. It would also place a huge burden on local authorities having to deal with the extra planning.
The solution proposed by the new government is to leave the new planning class, but allow landlords to rent properties as HMOs in most areas without having to apply for planning permission. In areas where there is a need to control HMO development, local authorities will be able require planning applications for changes of use.
The announcement on the CLG website states
This will enable high concentrations of HMOs to be controlled where local authorities decide there is a problem, but will prevent landlords across the country being driven from the rental market by high costs and red tape.
It is estimated that as many as 8,500 planning applications could be submitted each year if every landlord looking to turn their property into a HMO is first required to seek permission – instead, councils will be able to focus their efforts in particular neighbourhoods where HMOs present a problem, while landlords of HMOs in other areas will not be tied up in red tape.
The proposed changes will not be introduced until 1 October. It is hoped that in the meantime Local Authorities will go easy with landlords and not pursue them for planning applications in areas where this is not going to be required post 1 October.