Article 4 Crack down: Latest 5 UK Cities restricting HMO Developments

HMOs are becoming harder to develop across the UK and whilst that may seem like a challenge for HMO landlords it does present opportunities and increased equity potential. Today we explore 5 cities in the UK that are cracking down on HMO developments. Let’s dive in.


New Article 4 Limitations in Coventry

Coventry’s local authority has initiated a review on a significant new proposal aimed at restricting the transformation of properties into HMOs without comprehensive planning approval.


The council is keen on implementing Article 4 limitations in 11 of the city’s 18 wards, notably Foleshill, Radford, Sherborne, St Michael’s, Earlsdon, both Lower and Upper Stoke, Cheylesmore, Wainbody, Westwood, and Woberley. These wards currently witness the densest presence of HMOs.


Introduced earlier this year, the initiative seeks to mitigate the undue displacement of families in search of homes. It also aims to offer prospects for potential homeowners by regulating the density of HMOs in specific wards, ensuring they aren’t densely packed.


Councillor David Welsh, the cabinet member overseeing housing and communities, expressed the council’s intent to manage the proliferation of HMOs in Coventry, particularly in areas already saturated with shared accommodations. He emphasized, “While HMOs have their place, there’s a pressing need for quality, affordable family homes. We’re confident this move will enhance our communities.”


Feedback on this proposal is open until 15th November, with the likelihood of the plan being rolled out the following year.


This initiative is in line with the council’s recent decision to impose civil penalties, with fines reaching up to £30,000, targeting landlords who breach licensing terms. This includes violations related to overcrowding, improvement directives, and HMO licensing.


Furthermore, Coventry has an existing supplementary licensing system for smaller HMOs and has also launched a complimentary, optional accreditation program to elevate standards within this housing segment.

Follow the link for more information about HMOs for sale in Coventry.


Article 4 Extension in Burnley

Burnley Council is actively re-evaluating its stance on the planning regulations associated with the conversion of properties into Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO). The council’s executive has received a report suggesting the revocation of the existing permitted development rights. These rights currently facilitate the transformation of a single dwelling unit into a small-scale HMO without necessitating planning approval.


An HMO is typically defined as a property occupied by a minimum of three unrelated individuals, sharing amenities like bathrooms or kitchens. The prevailing regulations allow for the conversion of a single residence into an HMO, accommodating between three to six occupants, without any planning permission. However, the council’s new proposal mandates that any such conversion would require a formal planning application. It’s worth noting that larger HMOs already fall under this requirement.


Councillor John Harbour, the executive member responsible for housing and leisure, commented on the rising number of HMOs in specific regions of Burnley. He highlighted potential challenges such as increased anti-social activities, crime, and parking constraints. While acknowledging the role of HMOs in providing affordable and adaptable housing solutions, especially for the younger demographic and those with limited income, he emphasized the need for a balanced approach. He stated, “The intention behind revoking permitted development rights isn’t to halt the creation of HMOs but to grant the council enhanced oversight regarding their quantity and distribution.”


The council plans to initiate a public consultation phase lasting six weeks to gather feedback on these proposals. Detailed information about this consultation will be disseminated shortly. Based on the feedback, a subsequent report will be presented to the executive in Spring 2024 to determine the next steps. If approved, the proposed changes are slated to be implemented by October 2024, following the completion of the necessary legal procedures.


Haringey’s Enhanced Approach to HMO Licensing

Haringey, a prominent London Borough, is unveiling plans for an augmented HMO (Houses in Multiple Occupation) licensing system. This initiative is designed to intensify the crackdown on unscrupulous agents and landlords who lease substandard properties.


Remarkably, 40% of Haringey’s populace resides within the Private Rented Sector. To date, landlords who have neglected to obtain the necessary HMO licenses have been penalized with cumulative fines nearing £200,000.


Consultative Measures

Earlier this week, Haringey Council members endorsed a proposal for an extended consultation. The council believes that the introduction of this new scheme will empower them to adopt a more proactive stance in enforcing regulations against subpar property conditions. This encompasses the identification of properties that may be at risk and the execution of thorough inspections.


HMOs, by definition, permit landlords to lease their properties to a minimum of three individuals from different households, sharing common amenities such as bathrooms and kitchens. As the current HMO Licensing scheme is set to conclude in May of the upcoming year, Haringey is keen on ensuring that its residents have consistent access to secure, sustainable, and reasonably priced accommodations.


Protection for Tenants

It’s crucial to note that landlords are prohibited from evicting tenants from rented properties merely to sidestep the licensing requirements. Tenants also benefit from protection against arbitrary evictions in unlicensed properties.


Councillor Sarah Williams, who oversees Housing Services, Private Renters, and Planning, articulated the council’s vision: “The enhanced HMO scheme is poised to establish a robust regulatory framework. This will not only support the commendable landlords in Haringey but also equip the council with the authority to take action against errant landlords. Given that nearly half of Haringey’s residents are tenants in privately rented properties, and an estimated 25% of these properties are in suboptimal condition, this scheme is pivotal. We’re eager to have as many stakeholders as possible participate in this initiative.”


Portsmouth’s New Licensing Framework for HMOs

In a bid to enhance the living standards of tenants in Portsmouth, the local council is revising its licensing requirements for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). As it stands, HMOs housing five or more tenants are mandated to obtain a license, ensuring adherence to stipulated accommodation standards, as well as compliance with gas, fire, and electrical safety norms.


Starting 1st September, the council is broadening its licensing scope to encompass smaller HMOs, ensuring that even those with fewer tenants benefit from safe and satisfactory living conditions. Landlords are encouraged to submit their applications from this date, with a deadline set for 1st December.


This modification introduces a three-tiered licensing system for HMOs, contingent on the number of occupants and the property’s structural configuration:

Additional Licence: Pertains to HMOs housing three or four individuals.

Mandatory Licence: Applicable for HMOs with five or more residents.

257 Licence: Designed for properties transformed into flats that don’t align with the 1991 building regulations. This licence is essential if over two-thirds of the flats within the property are leased. In certain instances, properties might necessitate both a 257 licence and either an additional or mandatory licence.


To facilitate a smooth transition, the council has curated a range of resources for landlords, encompassing document checklists, detailed licence information, instructional videos, and answers to common queries. The overarching objective of this scheme is to foster exemplary practices among landlords. Incentives, such as extended licensing durations and reduced fees, are on offer for those meeting specific conditions.


Councillor Ian Holder, responsible for Community Safety, remarked on the city’s abundance of responsible landlords and acknowledged the pivotal role of shared accommodations. He stated, “Post our public consultation last year, we’ve incorporated the feedback received. Our dedicated team is poised to collaborate with landlords, ensuring they’re equipped with the requisite information. It’s imperative to recognize that both landlords and tenants stand to gain from compliant, safe, and quality housing.”


Landlords keen on applying can access the application form from 1st September on the council’s website. For further inquiries, they can reach out to the licensing team directly.


Bolton’s Revised HMO Housing Regulations

Bolton’s town hall is gearing up for discussions on potential modifications to housing regulations, specifically those that have enabled the transformation of family residences into multi-occupancy bedsits. As it stands, developers are only mandated to secure comprehensive planning approval from Bolton Council for houses of multiple occupancy (HMO) that accommodate six or more individuals.


However, in response to concerns raised by council members, the authority is contemplating the establishment of a policy development group. This group’s primary objective would be to deliberate on comprehensive alterations to the existing practices.


Councillor Paul Heslop, representing Kearsley, expressed his anticipation for the upcoming discussions, emphasizing the need to address not just Article 4 but also the broader challenges associated with HMOs. For the uninitiated, Article 4 pertains to the legal procedures that councils can mandate property owners to adhere to prior to converting residences into HMOs.


The surge in applications to repurpose traditional family homes, often terraced dwellings, into HMOs has sparked significant debate in Bolton. Councillor Heslop was notably perturbed by a recent proposal presented to the Bolton Council, which sought to repurpose the erstwhile Spread Eagle pub on Manchester Road, Kearsley, into an eight-bedroom HMO.


While property developers have consistently advocated the potential of such conversions to address Bolton’s housing demands, local residents have voiced apprehensions. Their concerns predominantly revolve around potential overcrowding, traffic congestion.