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Planning controls restrict new Houses in Multiple Occupation in the Royal Borough of Greenwich

Monday, October 29, 2018

New planning controls that restrict Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the Royal Borough of Greenwich came into force on 27 September 2018.

The Royal Borough has removed permitted development rights by implementing a borough wide HMO Article 4 Direction under planning legislation.

Prior to 27 September, single family properties could be converted to HMOs with 3 to 6 occupants without requiring planning approval. Planning permission was only needed to convert properties into HMOs occupied by 7 or more people.

On 13 September 2017, the council approved a report proposing the new HMO planning restrictions and introduced a non-immediate Article 4 Direction, giving 12 months notice (read here). 

There followed a consultation exercise which attracted just 14 responses of which 10 were in favour, 3 made no comment and 1 objected to the proposal.

The HMO Article 4 Direction was confirmed by the council on 27 September 2018 and came into force the same day. As a result, planning permission is now required to convert any property into a HMO within the Royal Borough. The Direction is not retrospective and does not impact on HMOs already occupied on the go-live date.

Within the Royal Borough, these new planning restrictions complement the additional licensing scheme that came into force on 1 October 2017. Since that date, all HMOs in the Royal Borough have required a licence with the risk of prosecution or a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for landlords and agents that fail to comply.

Consultation on Supplementary Planning Document

Meanwhile, London Property Licensing has learnt of a further consultation on the supplementary planning guidance which sets out the policy under which future HMO planning applications will be considered.

Amongst a range of factors, the guidance is proposing all bedrooms occupied by a single person must be a minimum 9m2, which is significantly higher than the government's new absolute minimum size of 6.51m2.

According to the council's website, the consultation started on 2 October 2018 and finishes tomorrow (30 October).  

It is not known whether the council have written to local letting agents and landlords to advise them about the restriction on new shared-house tenancies.

Over one third of London Boroughs have introduced planning restrictions for small HMOs

Research by London Property Licensing has found that over a third of London Boroughs have introduced HMO Article 4 Directions covering either part or all of their area.

Whilst these planning controls can help to control the location and concentration of HMOs, they can also make it more difficult for single people, students and young professionals to find house and flat shares.

To find out if there is an HMO Article 4 Direction in your borough, click on 'Select Borough' and choose the borough you are interested in.

Further information about HMO licensing and planning rules in Greenwich can be found here.

A free guide to HMO Article 4 Directions is available here

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