New HMO planning restrictions are being introduced in South London

Monday, February 25th, 2019 - Croydon and Lewisham Council

London Property Licensing has discovered proposals for new HMO planning restrictions in the London Boroughs of Croydon and Lewisham.

Under existing planning rules, landlords can convert a family home into a small HMO with up to six occupants without needing planning permission. All HMOs with seven or more occupants need planning permission for change of use.

The proposed planning policy change – called an HMO Article 4 Direction – removes these permitted development rights, meaning all new HMOs in the designated area would require planning consent.

Whilst these planning changes enable the council to restrict the spread of new bedsit-style HMOs, it can also impact on students and young professionals seeking house and flat shares on a single tenancy.

It can reduce flexibility in the housing market by creating additional barriers that prevent landlords swapping between single family lets and shared accommodation according to housing demand. Once an HMO Article 4 Direction is in force, letting shared accommodation to three or more people will need planning permission if there is a material use of use.

Croydon HMO planning restrictions are being introduced borough wide

Croydon Council have said they want to protect family homes by requiring planning permission to convert all single family properties into houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).

According to Croydon Council, research has identified a shortage of family homes in the borough and over the past 10 years, hundreds of family homes have been converted to HMOs.

The council are holding a six-week consultation that started on 24 January 2019, and are inviting feedback from all interested parties. At the end of this period, and after reviewing comments made by the public, the council will decide whether the Article 4 Direction is to be confirmed.

If approved, the planning restrictions will come into force on 28 January 2020, although the changes are not retrospective and would have no impact on existing HMOs.

Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes and Gateway services, Croydon Council said:

For some time we have been concerned by the rapid decline in multi-bedroom homes in the borough, particularly given the acute housing need and people’s inability to access affordable home ownership.

It is clear it is becoming more and more important to protect family homes in Croydon. While we recognise the need for HMOs, we can already see that in some parts of the borough there are just too many HMOs in a small area for the local infrastructure to cope.

This Article 4 Direction will enable us to ensure we have a supply of decent housing for Croydon families to live in, as well as giving our residents moving into newly converted HMOs reassurance around basic rights, such as space requirements.

More information can be found on the council’s website.

Representations must be made before midnight, Friday 8 March 2019 and can be done so by emailing or posting to; Spatial Planning Service, 6th Floor Zone B, Bernard Weatherill House, 8 Mint Walk, Croydon CR0 1EA.

Non-immediate HMO planning restrictions approved by Lewisham’s Mayor and Cabinet

Meanwhile, in the London Borough of Lewisham, the Mayor and Cabinet met on 16 January 2019 to consider proposals for new HMO planning restrictions.

After considering a council officer’s report, the Mayor and Cabinet unanimously agreed to make a non-immediate HMO Article 4 Direction for the southern wards of Bellingham, Downham, Whitefoot and Grove Park, which would come into force 12 months after notice is given.

The council has said they intend to consult on the proposal for at least six weeks, although it is not known when the consultation process will start.

According to research by London Property Licensing, similar HMO planning restrictions have been introduced by over a third of London Boroughs. Checks on each borough can be carried out using the ‘Select Borough’ link at the top right of this page.

Latest update: the HMO Article 4 Direction consultation in Lewisham runs from 7 March to 2 May 2019 and more information can be found on the council’s website.

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