Brighton and Hove Council are now proposing to extend the existing Article 4 Direction. It will now apply to more HMO properties (Houses in Multiple Occupation) throughout the Brighton and Hove area.
An Article 4 Direction will apply to properties smaller than seven beds. They now require planning permission to convert the house into an HMO property.
The Council has done this in five areas within the last year or so. It has already caught out a substantial amount of landlords who did not apply for the planning consent for their property.
In June 2018 the Council decided to extend the boundary in Article 4. They decided to include areas such as Preston Park, East Brighton and Regency as part of the extension. This mainly related to the student occupied areas.
They believe the proposals are fair and make the rules consistent for everyone. Providing long term services to developers and residents. Also preventing the concentration of HMO’s becoming too high before action can be taken.
We have outlined in previous articles the necessary checks for HMO licencing. These are now City wide. If the proposals go ahead then this could cause landlord’s problems in the future. The representations of local landlords and the secretary of state will inform the decision, whichever way it goes.
The local council are trying to address the high cost of housing and shortage of new homes in the area. Pushing young professional people on low incomes to live in HMOs. By doing this they ensure that there is a high demand for them also. However the concentration of HMOs could put extra pressure on community residents. The proposal is not intended to stop HMO development. Instead its intention is to give the public more say. This is by way of managing the number of applications through the planning process in certain neighbourhoods.
We appreciate that most people don’t wish to live next to students or have HMOs but how could it affect landlords?
The affect could be substantial, we would suggest that you look at the proposal immediately. You should already have an HMO licence in respect of your property. If you do not we would suggest that you do so. If your property has already been rented out as an HMO for a period of four years or more under one contract then you have prescription rights. You will need to show the Council that you have already used it as an HMO property for a period of four years and so do not require planning. If you do not have an HMO licence we suggest that you apply for one to show that you are making an effort to get up to standard. This is critical if not done already.
These proposals could affect so many people and have a detrimental effect to certain parts of the market such as three bed properties. If a landlord now has to have a licence for a three bed flat as well as planning it may put them off long term. So they only rent it out as a two bed which then reduces the market for young professionals to share. This could have a detrimental affect rather than the positive that the council are looking at. We see both sides of the argument but is it really required?
What has this done for the market in Brighton and Hove?
The council in their wisdom have used the Lewes Road area to create student accommodation for the local universities. This includes the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex. Most of this student accommodation is in a pod based system rather than a student house. They have used the Lewes Road area as a corridor for student accommodation and trying to move this out of the city centre. It means there is a few minutes walk from the accommodation to the University of Brighton and University of Sussex. All of these large blocks now have a location close for the students. It does however mean that they have been very difficult when it comes to HMO properties for student accommodation. There are still some universities that are in Hove. Some in the central Hove location but most are now in this area. This means people are looking to move into the Brighton and Hove area that don’t want to be near student accommodation maybe starting to rent in Hove rather than through the city centre and down the Lewes Road area.
What affect has this had on the market?
We have found that three bedroom properties have become extremely popular to such an extend that the rental figures have increased dramatically. The new proposals have meant that landlords have now additional requirements that they have to adhere to and therefore landlords decide it is not commercial in this regard. If you have a property that is on two floors and have three bedrooms or more and you want to rent the property to sharers then you need to have a HMO license. There are certain requirements when it comes to a license to include minimum size rooms. They also include fire regulations and other legal documentation from the local authority. This has meant that a lot of landlords have decided to rent to families over professional sharers which has reduced the overall three bed market quite substantially.
Unfortunately, this will not change at any point in the future. The council are forever making changes and looking to improve housing stock.
There are various new Acts such as the Unfit for human habitation Bill and the new Renters Reform Bill which will be coming out as white paper this year. This will result in a substantial amount of new requirements for landlords. These enclose different types of compliance.
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