The Coalition Government has announced that local councils are to be given more flexibility to manage Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in their area. The problems that arise from concentrations of shared homes are not widespread, but the current requirement imposes an unnecessary burden on landlords and local planning authorities in those areas where shared homes are not a problem.
It also runs the risk of reducing supply if landlords choose to move out of the sector rather than face the costs and delays of applying for planning permission.
The definition of a small HMO (the C4 use class) will remain, and permitted development rights will be extended to allow all changes between the C4 and C3 classes without the need for planning applications. In areas where there is a need to control HMO development, local authorities will be able to use an Article 4 direction to remove these permitted development rights and require planning applications for such changes of use.
The new proposals will mean that any change of use between dwelling houses and small HMOs will be able to happen without planning permission, unless the local council believes there is problem with such development in a particular area. In these areas they will be able to use Article 4 powers to require planning permission.
The Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, said that the proposals are part of wider reform to the planning system so that it moves away from the current top-down approach and creates a system which encourages local people to take responsibility for shaping their communities, and gives power to councils to make this happen.
He said, “Councils understand their local area best, and they don’t need burdensome rules that assume housing issues in every town, village and hamlet are exactly the same. I am also committed to safeguard the supply of rented housing – shared homes are vital for people who want to live and work in towns and cities, and are important to the economy.
“That’s why I’m giving councils greater flexibility to manage shared homes in their local area. Where there are local issues with shared homes, councils will have all the tools they need to deal with the problem – but they will avoid getting bogged down in pointless applications, and landlords won’t be put off renting shared homes where they are needed.”
To find out about the current legislation that will be upgraded / amended by the proposals, click here.