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Council clamps down on housing carve up

Protecting the wellbeing of residents living in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and protecting the borough housing stock from being relentlessly carved up into HMOs, are issues Waltham Forest Council is working increasingly hard to address.

An HMO is a house which is occupied by people who do not form a single household – houses let as individual bed sitting rooms or where houses are converted into self-contained flats, for example.

At the start of this year the Council confirmed that it would introduce something called an ‘Article 4 Direction’ borough wide. This will remove ‘permitted development rights’, which allow a landlord to change a property from a single dwelling to an HMO without having to get planning permission.

From 16 September landlords will have to gain planning permission each and every time they consider making such a change. “It will give us much greater control over what is happening to the housing stock in the borough,” explained Councillor Clare Coghill, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and High Streets.

“It’s really important that we retain valuable single household dwellings and ensure that HMOs meet certain standards. Landlords need to consider things like means of escape in case of fire, amenities such as kitchens, bathrooms and toilets, and ensuring that the property is not overcrowded.”

Already landlords of certain types of HMOs must license their property with the Council, but this will extend the powers of the local authority to stop those landlords intent on simply maximising their profits by breaking up single dwelling properties into many different units.

Where landlords do not apply for a licence when they should, or their properties fall below the standards set by the Council, action will be taken. Habitable accommodation needs to be safe and in keeping with the surrounding properties and only by going through the relevant planning process can the Council determine whether granting permission is appropriate.

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