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Government alters HMO Leglislation

Landlords and agents in different parts of the country will face different regulations about whether planning permission will have to be sought to change a one-household property into a shared one following a change in government plans.

Earlier this year, the government set out intentions to remove “unnecessary bureaucracy” and allow landlords to offer their properties to multiple tenants without seeking planning permission.

“I’m giving councils greater flexibility to manage shared homes in their local area,” said Housing Minister Grant Shapps recently. “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.”

But announcements this week have revealed that a blanket ban on planning permission will not come into force throughout the country, as councils within high House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) density areas will still be allowed to request applications.

Affected councils will retain the right to demand planning applications for a change of use when a single household home is converted into a small HMO shared by between two and six unrelated people.

However, other councils will be able to decide that HMOs are not a problem and that planning permission will not be needed.

Changes enforced by the Labour government in April forced all landlords to submit a planning application if they change the use of a property from a single-household home to an HMO.

Heavily criticised by the Conservative party at the time, the universal need for planning applications has now been lifted but landlords could be left confused over differing council demands.

Despite the last-minute changes, the National Landlords Association has pledged support for Mr Shapps’ new system.

“Planning permission will still be needed in certain small areas to control the numbers of HMOs. However, we believe it should be used as one of many tools available to local authorities and not the first measure undertaken,” said Chairman Daivd Salusbury.


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