City votes for student HMO crack down

AFS Team·16 January 2013·3 min read
City votes for student HMO crack down
Chester is the latest University City where councillors have taken on special planning powers to limit the number of shared houses rented to students.

From July 2013, student landlords wanting to open a new small house in multiple occupation (HMO) shared by three to five tenants in the city’s Garden Quarter must apply for planning permission before letting.

The move is aimed at clamping down on the number of HMOs in the neighbourhood. The council alleges the homes spark antisocial behaviour, litter problems and parking issues for other residents.

Any HMO in the Garden Quarter is deemed to have permission from July – only new HMOs and those switching from HMOs to other uses and back to HMOs need apply for planning permission.

Cheshire West councillors voted unanimously for the article 4 planning direction to restrict HMOs after an eight week consultation with landlords, homeowners and letting agents.

Councillor Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: “We have listened to the concerns of residents about the problems associated with the uncontrolled growth of houses of multiple of occupation.

“We are trying to ensure the quality of life of people living in the Garden Quarter is maintained and that they don’t have to put up with constant change in their neighbourhood.”

HMO protest

Meanwhile councillors in Inverness are expected to reject a call for article 4 planning powers over small HMOs despite protests and petitions from residents and businesses in the city centre.

Highland Council will vote on a recommendation not to limit HMOs – but will reconsider the call when the number of shared houses reaches 10% of all homes in the city centre.

Businesses argue that the proposal only looks at the number of HMOs and not the number of tenants – which could rise to 20 or more students per property.

Inverness Business Improvement District manager Mike Smith said: "The recommendation for a 10% concentration qualification is not relevant as one HMO unit may house three to five people while another could have as many as 20, 30 or even 40."

To show the level of dissatisfaction, a 400-signature petition organised by businesses in the city was handed to councillors.