The government is being urged by the National Landlords Association (NLA) to repeal the fee that councils can now charge when an Article 4 Direction has been implemented.
Article 4 Directions, which remove permitted development rights in specific areas so anyone wanting to change the use of a property or make alterations would need to apply for planning permission, is not new. They came into existence under Section 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to limit development within National Parks and safeguard Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
But in December last year, an amendment was made to the Town and Country Planning Acts to allow local authorities to charge a £462 fee to anyone applying for planning permission to make alterations to their property where permitted development rights have been withdrawn. This amendment was not widely publicised and is only applicable where an Article 4 Direction is in place.
Article 4 is often used by local authorities to limit the number of HMOs in a geographical area, and while it does not prevent a landlord from renting out a property, it does require that the landlord registers the property as an HMO, which means applying for consent and paying the fee, even though this does not guarantee a successful application.
In areas where there are no Article 4 Directions, planning permission is not required.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the NLA, firmly believes that the Article 4 fee is a money grabbing exercise.
He said: “Article 4 Directions have long been a bugbear for landlords wanting the ability to change the structure of their portfolios. The introduction of the fee is nothing more than another revenue generating exercise. Councils are effectively removing permission and then charging people to get it back.
“This will not result in shared properties reverting back to family use, as councillors repeatedly say when introducing Article 4 Directions.
“It’s more likely that the existing tenures will be set in stone, as HMO landlords won’t let to a single family if it means losing the option to go back to letting to sharers later on.”