Bexley Council considering new powers to regulate the private rented sector
Bexley Council has announced it is actively working to manage the rapid increase in the number of smaller residential properties being converted into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The announcement comes in the wake of reports in the News Shopper that over 1,300 local residents had signed a petition calling for Bexley Council to bring in new planning controls to stop the rapid increase in family homes being converted into HMOs (read here)
As the law stands, no planning permission is needed in Bexley to convert family homes to HMOs with up to six occupants provided the property contains shared facilities, such as a kitchen or bathroom.
The Council say they are working to implement a range of new controls to take firm control of the issue. They want to ensure that smaller properties that are converted to HMOs provide suitable accommodation and reduce the risk that they create problems for other residents.
David Bryce-Smith, the Council’s Deputy Director for Public Protection, Housing and Public Realm said:
“We have heard people’s concerns and we are treating them very seriously. This is something which has only recently started to cause concern and we are taking steps to ensure we have the powers we need to protect the occupiers of the properties and their neighbours.
“London is growing fast and the demand for housing far exceeds the supply. It’s important to remember that these properties help meet people’s genuine need for housing. If they are properly managed, they do not generally cause problems.“
The Council say they are actively looking at all the powers available and are developing a comprehensive response to the issue that will include:
- A selective licensing scheme for all private rented properties for parts of the north of the borough;
- Securing powers to license small two-storey Houses in Multiple Occupation throughout the borough; and
- The future adoption of a local planning policy directive (known as an Article 4 directive) which would remove planning permitted development rights for smaller HMOs. If the Council takes this option, it would take around 12 months to come into force.
Bexley’s planning enforcement officers have the legal powers to visit properties and take action if they believe a development exceeds that which is permitted, or if the property is occupied by more than six people. If they know of any such cases, residents are asked to call or email the planning department.
Bexley Council have said that full details of their plans to crackdown on HMOs will be announced in July 2016 and London Property Licensing will be monitoring the developments closely.
For more information about property licensing and HMO planning controls in Bexley, visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/bexley.