Previous HMO usage disqualified on a technicality?

Previous HMO usage disqualified on a technicality?

11:05 AM, 28th June 2021, About a month ago 6

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One of our landlords has a licenced HMO located in a restrictive dwelling conversion ward. With an Article 4 Declaration in place, no new planning permission is being given for use as a C4 HMO. Not a problem except that this landlord converted the property into 8 unauthorised studio flats and has now been found out and told to dismantle the internal partitions.

The issue is that the council are now saying that by materially changing the use of the property from a generis HMO to 8 unauthorised studio flats, the property has now lost any existing established use as an HMO that would have been previously immune from planning enforcement under Section 171b of the Town and Country Planning Act (1990).

They further say that any use other than a C3 Family dwelling house would now require a full planning application, and a change of use to anything other than a family dwelling would be very unlikely to be supported.

The landlord accepts that it was wrong to create the unauthorised studio flats but feels that to have all the prior usage as an HMO (10 + years) disqualified on a technicality is wrong.

Do any of the experts on here feel this is worth appealing or would it simply be an expensive waste of time?

Can the council simply disqualify all the previous usage just because she put in the unauthorised studios?

It’s a very large house but any more than 2 unrelated sharers would make it an HMO requiring planning permission which will be refused so unless a large family can be found, she would appear to be stuffed.

Jonathan



Comments

by Mike

12:04 PM, 28th June 2021, About a month ago

Sad to say that if your council refuses you permission to go license for 8 studio flats, putting in 8 hard working tax paying and council tax paying individuals or couples, then your best option is to house a large family on benefits where the council will have to fend for them, pay all their council tax bills, what else can you do? Retaliate in kindness and as a direct result of their policy.

by Mike

12:12 PM, 28th June 2021, About a month ago

Oh I forgot to add, the neighbours would absolutely love a large family on benefits with 10 children, all screaming and shouting and playing and running up and down and mum and dad screaming at the kids. Playing cricket in the garden breaking neighbours windows, I have seen it all.

As far as I see it, it is still an HMO, if you remove the individual studios, because they never gave you permission to convert, so its previous status remains intact, as it has not been revoked or updated by any new changes officially. It will be worth appealing.

by Ian Narbeth

14:48 PM, 28th June 2021, About a month ago

Hi Jonathan
Planning issues are often not straightforward.. I know specialist planning lawyers who may be able to help. Contact me (Google my name) if you would like a referral..

by TrevL

22:38 PM, 28th June 2021, About a month ago

This type of story makes me laugh, appritiate the OP is only trying to do his best for his client (no criticism to him), but the client is clearly willing to consiously or negligently break the law, then complains unfair treatment when the law is quite rightly applied against her.

She should be grateful they haven't taken the matter further and has frankly shown she is not responsible enough to be a landlord and certainly not a HMO landlord where legal and regulatory requirments are higher due to the increased safety issues.

by Mike

2:21 AM, 29th June 2021, About a month ago

My opinion would differ, in that she is trying to provide affordable self contained studio flats with its own bath and cooking facilities, what more can one ask? better than shared facilities, and lack of privacy. Yes she is entitled to maximise the potential of a property, within limits of course, so why can the council not just approve the development or if necessary they can ask her to reduce the numbers of SCF. In this day and age when we have shortage of affordable housing.

by Chris Bradley

6:55 AM, 29th June 2021, About a month ago

I wonder if the landlord could argue that the partitions were temporary to provide safer living situations during covid, so that tenants didn't have to use shared facilities.

Would be interesting to see weither this is a loophole and how the courts would view it.


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