15:02 PM, 20th December 2011, About 12 years ago 3
Local councils have lost their fight in the courts to overturn the government’s house in multiple occupation planning laws.
After a bitter and long-running dispute, the Court of Appeal has rejected their challenge and ruled housing minister Grant Shapps made a considered and fair decision to reverse planning laws rushed in by the outgoing Labour Government in April 2010.
The action was headed by Milton Keynes Council, backed by Oxford City Council and Newcastle City Council.
In April 2010, the then Labour government introduced new HMO planning rules stating that any change from a family home to an HMO required planning permission from the local council.
In October 2010, the incoming Conservative government scrapped the planning requirement, telling councils they already had enough powers to deal with any HMO problems they perceived in their areas.
In April, a judicial review in the High Court rejected claims from lawyers representing Milton Keynes Council that the minister’s actions were unfair because he had not consulted fully with local planners, and the case went to appeal.
In ruling that the government’s recent consultation was reasonable, the judge backed the High Court decision.
Both courts decided that a consultation of local councils in 2009 was enough to let Shapps introduce the HMO regulations.
“In that consultation, over a longer period, Milton Keynes and all local planning authorities were given an opportunity to make representations on a series of options, which included that subsequently adopted by the secretary of state in September 2010,” the Court of Appeal said.
“The secretary of state was minded to make the orders challenged notwithstanding the strong, articulated objections to them by local planning authorities, of which he was aware. The decision to make them was a political decision which the secretary of state was entitled to make.”
Effectively, the ruling leaves HMO planning as is – the default is landlords do not need planning permission when opening a new shared house for three to five unrelated tenants.
If the local council has applied for an Article 4 direction under the Town and Country Planning Act, then planning permission is required.
So far, around 30 council areas out of almost 200 are subject to Article 4 HMO planning restrictions.