HMOs and Planning

The Government has got it wrong

The Government recently announced that all shared housing will require planning permission. The implications are huge for the thousands of landlords who let properties to shared households and tens of thousands of tenants who depend on access to shared housing.

Join us in making sure the consequences of this policy are not ignored by your MP. Please write to your local MP.  There are 2 separate very important issues which will affect you, please see the suggested Planning letter below followed by the Licensing letter.  NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACTION, thank you again.




Changes to planning law for shared housing

I am writing to you as one of the many landlords that provides shared housing in your constituency and support the work of the National Landlords Association.  I have numerous concerns about the recent announcement by the Government on the 27th January that all shared housing would now require planning permission.

It is my understanding that the Government is trying to use planning law to tackle specific problems that occur in a minority of areas where there is a concentration of problem student and migrant accommodation. As a professional landlord I recognise that there are some localised problems with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that need addressing, but I fail to see how changes to planning law will solve these problems and help our community.

As my member for Parliament I think you should investigate whether the Government has sufficient answers for the following substantial questions:

·        The Government has said that this change will not be retrospective but it is unclear as to whether all existing shared homes will be exempt. What will be included as a “material change”which will necessitate a property needing planning permission? Will this become a regular tax on rental accommodation?

·        Will local authorities be able to deny landlords trying to increase the supply shared housing because of pressure from resident organisations? If demand for shared housing is growing, will people find it hard to access affordable housing because of the local implementation of this policy?

·        How confident is the Government that local authorities will be able to cope with the influx of planning applications and ensure that law abiding landlords are not put at a disadvantage against rogue landlords?

Dr Julie Rugg’s review of the Private Rented Sector dismissed these changes to the planning system as an ‘extreme response’which ‘local authorities are ill-equipped to handle.’The Government’s own evidence on this issue in Northern Ireland showed:

However, what was clear was that despite the changes to the Use Classes Order introduced in 2004, without a watertight and robust planning policy in place at the outset to support planning decisions

All the evidence points to an increasing need for more shared housing, why isn’t the Government supporting good landlords like myself to produce more housing for rent and taking targeted action to remove rogue landlords who give us all a bad name?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,





Powers to allow local authorities to introduce landlord licensing schemes

I am writing to you as a local landlord and a supporter of the National Landlords Association. I have very serious doubts about the Government’s intention to grant a ‘general consent’for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes for landlords.
The Housing Act 2004 introduced licensing schemes to deal with unsafe and bad quality Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) provided they could demonstrate the need to central government. The current system has enabled 16 local authority areas to put in place discretionary HMO licensing schemes and Communities and Local Government have approved a further 17 selective licensing designations in 12 local authority areas which require licenses for all rental properties in the designated area.
Licensing schemes were intended to be used as a measure of last resort. Local authorities should only consider licensing schemes because all other efforts have failed. The Government’s announcement on the 3rd February 2010 is a worrying departure from that precept.
Landlords are already concerned about how both HMO licensing and selective licensing schemes are working:
- The level of license fee is a post-code lottery for landlords, opaquely set and disproportionate. In some areas the fees are raising the cost of letting property by as much as £300 per year;
- Licensing schemes are being implemented unevenly. Whilst the majority of landlords affected comply, there is no sense that local authorities are targeting those acting outside of the law. Rather the general feeling is that they concentrate regulatory action on those already engaging with the system;
- There is no sense that local authorities are adequately resourcing their private rented sector teams to enforce regulations evenly and ensure adequate support for landlords. From the sector’s point of view this makes licensing schemes the easy option for local authorities.
The move to allow local authorities to institute such schemes without having to make the case to an outside body (in this case CLG) will encourage councils to cut corners and institute licensing schemes without using other, more effective tools, first.
In 2006 the Association of Residential Letting Agents said that the licensing regime had resulted in the loss of 75,000 properties from the private rented sector. These are homes that we need as a country and cannot afford to lose. As my member of Parliament I would like you to:
- find out whether the Government has considered streamlining its assessment criteria for local authority scheme proposals rather than just given a blanket consent to councils;and
- urge the Government to focus local authorities on more targeted efforts to increase quality and to support good landlords in the area.
I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,


Please post these letters to your local MP, thank you. 



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  2. Changes to Planning Use Laws
  3. Changes to Planning Use Laws
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