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Student landlords looking to expand their portfolios need to move quickly in many towns and cities to avoid new rules that require shared houses to apply for planning permission.
Currently, a house in multiple occupation (HMO) investor can start letting to tenants without any licences or permissions, providing the house is less than three floors and is home to no more than four separate singles or couples.
Many councils are preparing to take on additional powers to tackle what they see as poor housing, antisocial behaviour and other problems from student lets and HMOs.
These powers include requiring property investors to apply for planning permission for every new shared house, regardless of the size or number of tenants.
Landlords will also have to licence these properties.
To gain these powers, a council has to launch a 12-month consultation period.
These councils have consultations underway or about to start:
Oxford has already taken on these extra powers under ‘article 4’ of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.
Four councils – Loughborough, Newcastle up on Tyne, Milton Keynes and Oxford are challenging HMO licensing rules through a judicial review in the High Court. The result is expected in March or April.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is lobbying against councils taking on extra HMO powers citing they will choke rental property supply, lead to higher rents and falling house values in areas subject to the controls.
“Instead of using planning powers to impose this kind of restriction, the RLA strongly believes that where there are concerns about the behaviour of tenants in HMOs, the local authority should work with tenants, student unions, landlords and the police to better educate tenants on their responsibilities to the community,” said RLA chairman Alan Ward.
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