Brighton landlord ordered to stop renting out shared house

Posted On 07 Mar 2016 at 9:21 pm

A landlord has been ordered to stop renting out a shared house near Fiveways in Brighton.

Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The landlord of a property near Fiveways in Brighton is no longer allowed to let the property as a shared house.

“Last year Brighton and Hove City Council served a planning enforcement notice on the property, 9 Adams Close, Brighton, on the grounds that there are already many shared houses in the immediate area.

“The landlord continued to let out the house despite not having the necessary planning permission while appealing against the enforcement notice to the government’s planning inspectorate.

“Last month the landlord’s appeal was dismissed by the government’s planning inspectorate following consideration of the case.

Councillor Julie Cattell

Councillor Julie Cattell

“The result means it will be an offence for the owner to continue to use the property as a shared house for rent.

“The property was until recently still being advertised to future tenants. These advertisements have now been withdrawn.”

Councillor Julie Cattell, who chairs the council’s Planning Committee, said: “It is very good news that our local planning decisions are getting government backing. Last year two other appeals were dismissed in the same way.

“This recent decision enables the council to prosecute the landlord if the terms of the notice are breached.”

In April 2013 the council introduced extra planning controls for anyone wishing to set up small shared houses – also known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – in five electoral wards.

The wards are Hanover and Elm Grove, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, Hollingdean and Stanmer, St Peter’s and North Laine and Queen’s Park.

Councillor Anne Meadows

Councillor Anne Meadows

The rules require landlords wanting to let a shared housing to gain planning consent from the council as well as an HMO licence. The rule applies to any home where three to six unrelated people live.

Planning permission is always required for more than six unrelated people to live in an HMO anywhere in Brighton and Hove.

The council has recently advised letting agencies of their duty to pass on material information to tenants about whether properties have planning permission.

Councillor Anne Meadows, who chairs the council’s Housing and New Homes Committee, said: “The council’s HMO planning restrictions enable us to maintain a balance of communities for the benefit of families, single people and people in shared housing alike.

“This recent decision sends a message that our policies are in the best interest of our residents.”

  1. Pingback: Brighton landlord ordered to stop renting out shared house | Southdown Rise Residents Association

  2. EHarding Reply

    Since 2013 almost 3000 HMO licenses were issued in the 5 Lewes Road Wards without any reference to planning requirements. Planning dictates that a licensed HMO must apply for a change of use (from a normal house to a HMO) and planning prohibits additional HMOs where more than 10% of residences within the 50m radius are already in use as an HMO in these 5 wards. Since 2013, only about 50 change of use applications have been approved by planning (less than 100 submitted). Therefore there is a shortfall of approximately 2,800 change of use planning applications for HMOs in these 5 wards. BHCC is totally incompetent, knows this is the case and pretends it is not happening. They just want to bank the HMO licensing fees. A landlord has a responsibility to know who the tenants are living in a property but has no right to insist on knowing their interpersonal relationships. There are probably about 300-500 HMOs in the 5 Lewes wards that are in violation of the 10% rule… so about 2000 students about to lose their homes if BHCC is serious about enforcement. It is all a big joke.

    • Jo Wadsworth Reply

      You’ve been busy on the calculator!

      One quick thing though, smaller HMOs which existed prior to 2013 don’t need planning permission, but do need a licence, which will probably account for a lot of the 2,800 shortfall.

      But not all – and the council is taking enforcement action against those which don’t have permission – 50 were being investigated in November, so I imagine we’ll be hearing a lot more examples like this in the coming months:

  3. EHarding Reply

    There have been over 500 HMO licences issued to “small houses” that were NOT “HMOs” before 2013. The records are all in the public domain. BHCC Housing and Planning do not communicate – Housing want to bank the cheques for the licences and will issue one knowing it is does not fall outside 50m radius etc. There is a shortfall of about 400 change of use planning applications, most of which would fail. Therefore over 1200 students can expect section 21 notices if the council actually connects the dots, unless the students say they are related (cousins is OK). There is lots of “cousins” cohabiting in this city on the letting agents books. The one fact that continues to be ignored is that landlords have no right to insist on disclosure about interpersonal relationships among tenants. So quite how the “people who are unrelated” or “people who are related” is supposed to be enforced without prejudice is unknown. It is a nationwide issue that cannot be addressed unless the people in question are “protected minorities”.

  4. Jo Wadsworth Reply

    The licenses might have been issued post-2013, but that’s because licenses weren’t a requirement before then. So although the licence might only be a few years old, the property might have been being used as an HMO long before that. If the owner can prove it’s pre-2013, no planning permission is needed.

    That’s an interesting point about cousins though . . .

  5. EHarding Reply

    You are confusing the facts Jo. Every house that applied for a “small house” license after 2013 should have also applied for change of use planning permission – NONE were previously licenced as HMOs. About 2,800 shortfall of planning applications according to information in the public domain. Check with G4Lets to see how many sets of “cousins” they have on their books… Once all the students are evicted from the houses that should never have been given HMO licences in the first place there will be more houses available for families, although there is not high demand for this type of rental accommodation. In addition to lots of cousins, landlords will demand that the 3-bedroom houses only have 2 tenants “living” in them, so underutilized rooming capacity. There are plenty of students from well off families who can afford to pay increased, so there will be more pressure on the limited housing stock in the city to house the displaced students. Cllr Meadows is fully aware of this and all the ramifications and does not have a clue what to do about it. There is talk of revocation of the “small house” licence scheme because it will actually make things worse rather than better once the Planning department enforces all the change of use requirements. Trouble is BHCC does not want to hand back the money.

  6. Jo Wadsworth Reply

    I don’t want to argue, but I’ve reported on this several times, and I’m confident that I’ve got that particular bit right. I was told by the press office:

    “As it’s a new licensing system new licenses are more likely to be issued to existing HMOs. Sometimes a new licence will be issued because of enforcement action.

    “Important to remember we cannot use the new planning rules to get rid of HMOs that existed before we assumed the powers.”

    But you do raise some very interesting points about cousins and the effects of small HMO enforcement on the general housing market.

  7. EHarding Reply

    All 3-bed HMOs were licenced AFTER 2013 – that is almost 3000 AFTER 2013 – it is the small HMOs where the huge shortfall is. Watch this space… let’s see what BHCC come up with. They are scratching their heads I can assure you. Ask Cllr Meadows what she is going to do when all the evictions starts happening…

  8. Tracey Hill Reply

    Jo is right, most of the licences which have been issued since 2013 are for properties which don’t need planning permission. Undoubtedly there are properties where there should have been a planning application and there hasn’t been, but not on the kind of scale inferred above. The Council is focusing more on this and is on the case! From the tenants’ point of view, the owners’ right to appeal a planning decision means that there is generally several months at least between a decision being made and enforcement actually happening. The Council is unfortunately not legally able to withhold an HMO licence on the grounds that the property doesn’t have planning permission – the legislation doesn’t allow it.

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