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New Scrappage Scheme – Planning permission for HMOs out!!

Hallelujah chorus should be ringing out from all the corners of the UK as the Housing Minister has come up with the latest scrappage scheme. This time, its to do with the previous Government’s desire to tie up landlords in red tape, and create more work for the already overwhelmed and creaking planning services up and down the country.

The Labour government decided that anyone wanting to turn a Single Family House (SFH) into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) of any size, had to obtain planning permission. This was their attempt to deal with a problem in a very small portion of the country. Talk about using a sledge hammer to swat a fly and not thinking through things.

Anyway, Grant Shapps has brought some sense into the matter.  According to the News Release as published on the CLG Website:

Landlords and councils will no longer be faced with bureaucracy aimed at micro-managing rented housing, Housing Minister Grant Shapps confirmed today.

The Minister laid new regulations that could cut as many as 8,500 planning applications from the system, freeing up councils to focus on local priorities. Currently landlords have to submit a planning application to rent their properties to unrelated tenants – known as HMOs ( Houses in Multiple Occupation). Regulations published today will ensure councils only have to use this power where they know high concentrations of shared homes are a problem.

Too many shared homes in one area can cause problems. A high number of short term tenants with little stake in the community can leave an area with an unloved look and feel, which can sometimes create seasonal ghost towns that harm local economies, anti-social behaviour and an increase in crime.

But the Minister said that a blanket requirement to manage these through the planning system is a drain on council resources, and threatens to drive good landlords away from the rental sector because of increased costs and red tape, therefore restricting availability of affordable homes for rent.

Currently up to 8,500 planning applications may be added to the system each year if every landlord looking to turn their property into a shared home is forced to submit an application, regardless of local circumstances.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

“Councils understand their local area best, and they don’t need burdensome rules that assume housing issues in every town, village and hamlet are exactly the same. I am also committed to safeguard the supply of rented housing – shared homes are vital for people who want to live and work in towns and cities, and are important to the economy.

“That’s why I’m giving councils greater flexibility to manage shared homes in their local area. Where there are local issues with shared homes, councils will have all the tools they need to deal with the problem – but they will avoid getting bogged down in pointless applications, and landlords won’t be put off renting shared homes where they are needed.”

Well done Minister, and thank you.

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