Councils challenge HMO planning reversal in High Court

Councils challenge HMO planning reversal in High Court

11:07 AM, 28th October 2010, About 14 years ago

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Student landlords and shared house investors planning and licensing rules face scrutiny under a second legal challenge – this time by local councils.

The rules are already facing High Court review after landlords in Oxford decided to take on the city council over plans to take up tighter planning and licensing controls.

In the second action, several local authorities led by Milton Keynes District Council have won the right to review changes to HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) planning law made by Housing Minister Grant Shapps that started on October 1.

The changes reversed a previous law change on April 6 that let councils assess each new proposal for an HMO for three to five unrelated tenants.

In the High Court, Lord Carlile agreed the councils had an argument and gave the Communities and Local Government until October 8 to respond.

If the CLG fails to respond, the councils will apply for an injunction that effectively puts HMO planning law back to the April 6 law change.

If the councils win the review case, they want an order to quash Mr Shapps’ decision.

A decision is expected next week.

Milton Keynes councillor Mike Galloway said: “This is encouraging news and we are pleased that the judge is clearly giving proper consideration to the case made by Milton Keynes Council and other local authorities.

“Obviously the coming days will be crucial as the issues are thrashed out.”

House in multiple occupation owners in Oxford have already launched a judicial review of the plans by Oxford City Council to introduce article 4 powers under the Housing Act to control planning and licensing of HMOs in the city.

The council wanted to introduce the rules on October 22, but is now meeting to consider whether to withdraw the move after legal action by landlords. The landlords’ claim the proposal is not legal and threaten they will claim compensation for loss of earnings and costs if the council goes ahead.

Oxford has also joined the council group mounting the High Court challenge.

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