Housing minister Grant Shapps has scrapped complicated blanket HMO planning rules for houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
He has announced new regulations aimed at cutting 8,500 HMO applications from the planning system every year by removing the need for every new HMO to apply for planning consent.
But councils identifying problems with high concentrations of shared homes can still designate new HMOs in a particular neighbourhood needing approval.
The minister said that a blanket requirement to manage these through the planning system is a drain on council resources, and threatens to drive good landlords away from the rental sector because of increased costs and red tape, that leads to restricting the availability of affordable homes for rent.
The current rules were put in place by the last government on April 6, 2010 as part of a campaign to regulate the private rental sector. Other scrapped proposals included a national landlord register for England and a controversial ‘rate-your-landlord’ web site.
Grant Shapps 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.”
Technically, the changes mean 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, councils will be able to use an Article 4 direction to remove these permitted development rights and require planning applications for such changes of use.
These 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.