Proposed changes to HMO guidance in the pipeline

Published: Thursday, 25 July 2019

Landlords might soon have additional planning guidance to follow if they wish to convert Northampton properties into homes in multiple occupation (HMOs).

A new supplementary planning document (SPD) was last night (Wednesday 24 July) approved by Northampton Borough Council’s Cabinet to go out for public consultation.

The document sets out a series of changes from the current interim planning policy statement which outlines principles that need to be taken into account by the Council in considering planning applications for HMOs in the borough, where this is required.

Across large parts of Northampton, there is presently no requirement for landlords to seek planning permission to convert properties into HMOs where they will accommodate up to six unrelated people.

Several parts of Northampton are currently covered by Article 4 Directions which mean all HMO conversions must be supported by planning permission.

This protection can be introduced by local authorities in places where an abundance of such properties is likely to harm the character of the area.

The SPD will help further limit the number of HMOs in areas subject to Article 4 Directions, ensure they have adequate facilities for occupants and lessen their impact on communities.

Cllr James Hill, Council Cabinet member for planning, said: “If they are not properly managed, HMOs can cause serious issues for the neighbourhoods they are part of.

“If tenants do not have adequate provision for cars or reasonable of means of dealing with refuse, these can become big issues resulting in on-street parking issues and fly-tipping.

“As many HMOs are short-term lets, it can also be difficult to create a sense of community in those areas, particularly where there is a high density of such properties.

“There is also the risk of tenants being exploited by unscrupulous landlords so it is vital that these properties are maintained to a good standard.

“This supplementary planning document will help us manage the number and quality of HMOs in Northampton, particularly in areas which are subject to Article 4 Direction.”

This will run for eight weeks from 8 August to 3 October, during which further details will be available on the Council’s ‘current consultations’ page.

A copy of the supplementary planning document can be found here.