HMO Classification Changes Spell Trouble


Grant Shapps, new Housing Minister, may have rode into town declaring his role as new sheriff by making some changes to the outdated policies of the former government, but it appears that his predecessor, Jonathan Healey’s HMO classification reform is to remain in the power of the local authorities themselves.

To come into effect as of 1st October 2010, any house that has 3 or more unrelated sharers will be deemed as a HMO. Under Mr. Healey’s reform this classification would drive it from a class C3 to a C4 and would have to apply and pay for planning permission. If it went back to a single tenancy, then again as a multiple shared tenancy, again planning permission would need to be sought. The price for such permission is said to be approximately £350. However, under Mr. Shapp’s reform, such permission is now given to the local authorities discretion. In areas where there is felt a need to control HMOs, the local authority can now use an Article 4 directive to enforce such permission.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“Councils know about local issues with shared homes, and don’t need top-down rules from Whitehall to deal with problems that don’t exist. Where too many shared homes are causing problems for other residents or changing the character of a neighbourhood, councils should be able to control their spread. But I’m not going to create unnecessary costs for landlords, which puts the supply of rented homes at risk.

“That’s why I’m giving councils the power to decide whether to use the planning system to control the spread of shared housing where it is a problem.  This will give them the flexibility to make decisions that are right for their communities, rather than stifling the rental market with unnecessary costs and red tape.

“Shared homes ensure people who want to live and work in towns and cities can do so, and are vital to the economy. These changes will safeguard the supply of shared housing where it is needed without burdening landlords with cumbersome red tape – but will also hand councils the flexibility they need to tackle problems where they occur.”

While this reform may seem somewhat slightly less restrictive, it could still impede students and landlords alike and will no doubt have a negative impact on the very areas the government are trying to control. Many communities rely on the trade of students, shops, bars, cafes etc.


Madalena Penny

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