A public consultation on plans to limit the number of shared houses across Brighton and Hove starts on Monday (3 June).
Brighton and Hove City Council is looking at whether to require owners of even smaller shared houses to have to seek planning permission.
At the moment, they can rely on “premitted development rights” to change their use from family homes except in five council wards.
In those five wards, planning rules are used to limit the number of new houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) through what is known as an “article 4 direction”.
The policy was introduced in St Peter’s and North Laine, Hollingdean and Stanmer, Hanover and Elm Grove, Queen’s Park and Moulsecoomb and Bevendean in 2013 because of the rising number of small HMOs.
An HMO is defined as a house shared by at least three people who are not part of the same family.
In some parts of Brighton shared houses are predominantly rented by students but further from the universities they are often the first independent homes rented by young people.
Outside the five wards a small HMO – of up to six people – does not need planning permission.
The article four restrictions in Brighton and Hove also limit the number of new shared houses to 10 per cent within a 50-metre radius.
Both small and large HMOs already need a licence wherever they are in Brighton and Hove.
However, outside the five wards which are currently subject to article four directions, only bigger shared houses – of seven people or more – need planning permission.
Councillors approved the consultation process in January after a review because of growing concerns about the numbers of shared homes in East Brighton, Preston Park and Withdean wards.
Concerns were raised by people living in the Bennett Road area of East Brighton in June last year at a council meeting at Hove Town Hall.
Conservative councillor Mary Mears told the Transport, Development and Culture Committee how the issue was creeping into her Rottingdean Coastal ward.
Councillor Mears said: “It’s already happening, not going to happen, at the lower end of Rottingdean Coastal ward.
“Arundel Street and Arundel Road already have HMO problems.”
The consultation opens on Monday (3 June) and responses can be left on the Brighton and Hove City Council website at consultations.brighton-hove.gov.uk/planning/hmoarticle4direction.