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Graham Awards


Council rubber-stamps HMO policy against landlords' wishes

Landlords converting a property of any size to rent out on multiple tenancies in seven areas of a London borough could be required to seek planning permission.

The new rules, approved by Merton council, are supposedly designed to improve living conditions for tenants in homes which they share - but in a consultation over 50 per cent of landlords were opposed. 

The council says it is concerned about the poor condition of some HMOs and first introduced a requirement for planning permission in November ahead of a public consultation, which asked people their views on both planning permission (known as an Article 4 direction) and council licensing of landlords.


The results of the public consultation showed that over 80 per cent of non-landlord residents supported the move to require landlords to seek planning permission before converting a home. Apparently one-third of landlords were also supportive of the direction, although over half were opposed.

The council ignored the landlords’ opposition, saying it believes the extension of the current planning requirement will help tackle the issue of rogue landlords profiting from badly-managed properties in poor condition, which can also lead to anti-social behaviour affecting neighbours and local residents.

The results of the consultation on landlord licensing are expected later this year.

A council spokesperson says: “We are determined that Merton residents renting in the private sector should have access to well-managed homes in good condition. The confirmation of the Article 4 direction we have recommended to full Council will help us prevent inadequate conversions by landlords who are overcrowding and mismanaging homes with no thought for their tenants or neighbours.

“Requiring landlords to gain planning permission before a home is converted is the latest way we are standing up for private renters so they can feel at home here in Merton.”

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    Glasgow requires all flats occupied by more than two unrelated adults to have an HMO licence and also " "officially" requires HMO properties to seek planning permission for change of use as apparently they are no longer domestic dwellings. However they don't enforce this requirement as very few Landlords followed through from the HMO licence application and award to seeking the "required" planning permission as they don't want to make thousands of unrelated adult flat mates homeless which would be the outcome.

    Edinburgh is more sensible, not requiring planning permission for HMO flats occupied permanently by unrelated adults but does require planning permission for short term rental flats as they are not permanent dwellings.

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    Simply don’t believe the consultation and never seen a proper one yet.
    All fake from 2005 on to justify bringing in this money stream for themselves while the Schemes are supposed to be not for profit when introduced by Government.
    So Merton Council wants us to believe 50% or landlords voted for the Scheme, well not a hope or how many did they ask ? was it 2.
    80% of the Public were in favour of the Scheme, very surprised this is a low figure as they have no skin in the game and would vote against landlords for the hell of it, again 80% of how many of the Public or should that read 80% of the Public don’t know what a HMO is, ok let’s base it on that then.


    These numbers we see in surveys and consultations are simply picked out of a hat, simply B S


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