Royal Borough of Greenwich announce intention to require planning approval for all new HMOs

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017 - Royal Borough of Greenwich

On 13 September 2017, the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Cabinet approved a report proposing new planning restrictions for all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

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 change – called an HMO Article 4 Direction – removes these permitted development rights, meaning all new HMOs would require planning consent.

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

The council have said this is part of their wider plans to drive up standards in the rental sector and ensure that more tenants have well managed, safe and properly maintained homes.

The proposal is for a non-immediate HMO Article 4 Direction that would come into force 12 months after it is issued. However, the council will undertake a consultation with stakeholders across the Borough before reflecting on the feedback and deciding whether to confirm the Direction in 12 months’ time. The date for the consultation exercise has not yet been confirmed.

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Deputy Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, said:

The Council is committed to providing safe and secure accommodation for everyone in the borough. This latest decision will help us drive up standards, and drive out rogue landlords.

Councillor Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said:

The Royal Borough has taken a number of measures over recent years to tackle the problem of sub-standard and often unsafe accommodation, and this latest move strengthens our hand even more. Over-crowded and poorly maintained HMOs are not just devastating for the families that have to live there; it leads to other problems such as overflowing bins and flytipping.

According to research by London Property Licensing, similar HMO planning restrictions have been introduced in Bexley and parts of Southwark, although no such restrictions have been introduced in Bromley, Croydon or Lewisham. Our free guide to HMO Article 4 Directions is available here.

Greenwich landlords and agents are also being reminder about a borough wide additional licensing scheme which comes into force on 1 October 2017. The scheme will extend licensing to an estimated 6,500 HMOs, more information here.

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