HMO Planning Laws to be relaxed?


The Housing Minister today has revealed a new 'common-sense' approach to tough 'one size fits all' planning laws bought in during April 2010.

The Housing Minister has today issued a statement which will be of great assistance to Leeds Landlords and Leeds Letting Agents with strategy to let to small groups of sharers.

The Department for communities and Local Government released a press release this morning regarding an intention to amend the planning rules for HMOs which were introduced on 6 April 2010.

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps, Housing Minister, reported that he understood the concerns of local people who see their neighbourhoods being damaged by undue concentrations of HMOs and the significant impact this is having on their quality of life.

However, he mentions that there are also many areas where HMOs are not causing problems and indeed provide an important supply of low cost housing. The Housing Minister believes that the planning system needs to take account of both these differing circumstances and allow for local solutions.

The current rules imposed a blanket requirement for planning permission in order to change use from a domestic house to a HMO, running the risk of losing low cost housing in areas where it is needed most.

The new stance will move away from the centralised, regulatory approach which has dominated planning in recent years and create a system which encourages local people to take responsibility for shaping their communities. Decisions should reflect local priorities expressed through the local plan, rather than nationally imposed rules.

The Government intends to amend the HMO rules to allow changes of use between family houses and small, shared houses to take place freely without the need for planning applications.

In the areas experiencing problems with uncontrolled HMO development, local authorities will be able to use their existing direction making powers to restrict this freedom of movement by requiring planning applications.

This change will allow the free development of smaller shared housing, which is a vital component of our private rented sector, unless there is a serious threat to the area.

The Rt Hon Grant Shapps will now be looking at the detail of the proposed changes with interested partners to ensure that the new rules work for local people without placing an unnecessary burden on businesses.

The revised arrangements should be in place by October 2010.

Let-Leeds Landlord News, Letting Agents Leeds, 17th June 2010

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