In my 21 days of tips, I discussed whether taking in lodgers could create an HMO on day 7. However, since then the planning law has changed. If you take in more than two lodgers your property may need planning permission.
The background to this change in the law, is the numerous complaints to MPs and ministers about ‘studentification‘ in various parts of the country. This is where a particular area, generally within walking distance of a college or University, is used largely for student housing. This will generally be normal houses converted into student homes, with up to six or more students sharing a property.
This creates problems for the ‘normal people’ living nearby – loud parties, properties not being looked after properly, local shops and pubs losing trade when they all go home in the holidays, that sort of thing. Apparently, this type of problem is only severe in a relatively number of locations. However local residents in those areas are vocal and Something Had to Be Done About It.
The thing which was done, was to change the planning rules, to require planning permission to be necessary if a property is used in a way which complies with the definition of an HMO, ie three or more unrelated people sharing a property.
In the Day 7 post I discussed the implications of a property coming within the HMO definition. All of these properties will be bound by the management regulations, and some of them will need to get a license from the Council. To this can now be added, obtaining planning permission! Which will of course, involve paperwork, and the paying of a fee. Plus no doubt a long wait for permission to be granted.
It does seem a bit odd that someone wanting to rent a room in their own home to more than two lodgers will need to get planning permission, but this does appear to be the case. In the published guidance on the new planning rules on the Government web-site, it says
Properties containing the owner and up to two lodgers do not constitute HMOs for these purposes.
Which presumably means that properties containing the owner and three lodgers will. It is even odder, as, whether a property is considered an HMO, is not related just to the number of people there, but whether they are a ‘household’ or not. So if you take in six brothers as lodgers, they (probably) will count as one household as they are related.
Note that if you already let to three or more lodgers you will not need planning permission. Only if you started doing this after 1 April 2010. If you stop letting to the lodgers, you will not, apparently, need permission to change the planning class back again (but will if you later decided to take more than two lodgers again).
I am not a planning lawyer, so cannot advise fully on the ramifications of this new legislation. However, I would suggest that unless your lodgers are related in some way, you confine yourself to just taking in two at any one time. Then you will not have a problem.
Of you want to take in more lodgers – get some legal advice first from someone who understands HMOs and planning.