Council Planning Departments Deter Landlords

Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

Eric Pickle’s recent confirmation surrounding last month’s budget announcement, in which, unused offices and commercial premises can be converted into homes without planning permission, has met with confusion by some landlords, especially those that are already restricted from gaining planning permission on houses for landlord expansion.

The Department of Communities and Local Government have made it abundantly clear, that they are removing barriers to landlords in a bid to attract investment and more homes in the private rented sector.  However the coalitions ‘Big Society’ has not filtered down to some local authorities planning departments, who are blocking responsible and ethical landlords efforts to create additional homes by refusing planning permission.

It would be understandable if a local authority had applied an Article 4 Direction or if perhaps a town was over-run with students, but in some cases, planning is refused regarding a personal and in-house strategy based on their own guidelines and without consultation of landlords, tenants or residents.  Responsible landlords who have lost thousands of pounds on property, after acquiring a license are told further down the line that planning permission for a change in classification of a property has been denied.

Landlords and residents are rightly concerned that without a progression to affordable, modernized and updated homes, the lack of available housing stock will lead to a severe housing shortage, longer waiting lists for social sector housing and a rise in rogue landlords who do not have to maintain premises in order to compete with responsible landlords.

As of January next year the age limit for recipients of housing benefit living in shared accommodation has risen from under 25-year-olds to 35-year-olds.  That means that single people will only be given the single room allowance and not the self-contained accommodation rate.  As this will lead to a deficit of approximately 100,000 rooms, you would be forgiven to think that planning departments would re-think their guidelines.

The ‘Localism Bill’ announced in January by the government enables local authorities and councils to implement their own planning strategies. The ‘Bill’, which was introduced to empower councils, has been attacked by some landlords as a means to tighten planning permission and ultimately deterring investment and development of new homes and expansion of portfolios.

A number of councils, which challenged the government’s classification policy of HMO’s lost their high court appeal this week.  As a result of the length of time it takes for Article 4 to kick in (up to 12 months), local authorities are concerned they could be liable for compensation due to financial loss by landlords.  The four local authorities claim that the government failed to consult the appropriate planning authorities before altering the GDPO (General Permitted Development Order).

There is every reason for landlords whom have lost thousands due to local authority ‘Nimbyism’ to take their cases to court in a bid to recover lost income and expenditure.