More than 50 shared houses in York are under investigation for breaching HMO licensing laws, the city council has revealed.
Landlords of 53 houses in multiple occupation risk fines, loss of their licences or an order to cut the number of tenants if they are found to be breaking HMO rules.
York City Council disclosed the number of inquiries as preparations are under way to take on extra planning powers to manage small HMOs in the city from April 20.
From that date, landlords with shared homes housing three to five tenants will need planning permission before they start letting. Established small HMOs are unaffected by the ruling - unless they switch to a single let and back to an HMO.
HMOs for six or more tenants already need to seek planning permission.
Mike Slater, the council’s assistant director of city strategy, said: “The Council currently has 53 enforcement cases under investigation for properties which may be in breach of the current HMO restrictions.”
He also suggested that article 4 directions under the Town and Country Planning Act may yet face legal scrutiny as some housing lawyers claim landlords do not need to ask for planning permission for a small HMO.
“Changes of use between these classes has not really been tested in the courts and therefore such issues remain subject to some degree of interpretation,” said Slater.
He hinted most of the investigations concern shared homes let to students around the Newland Park Drive area of the city, including Green Dykes Lane and Hull Road.
The direction applies to the ‘whole built up area of York’ - a map is available to confirm the location from the council’s web site.
York is one of around 30 councils taking on article 4 directions to manage HMOs mainly let to students.