Councils all over the country have been cracking down on HMOs, making it more and more difficult to create new ones and taking enforcement action against existing ones.
The London Borough of Newham takes a very strict planning approach to new HMOs.
Firstly, it has an Article 4 direction, which takes away permitted development rights for the conversion of standard houses and flats into smaller HMOs (between 3 and 6 unrelated occupiers).
Secondly, it has very strict planning policies against HMOs. In particular, Policy H4 of its Local Plan seeks to protect existing family housing.
The council’s planning enforcement team is also targeting existing HMOs, some of which have been operating for decades, to check if they have planning permission.
In this case, our client had been running a HMO for many years. Though we advised him that it probably wouldn’t be granted planning permission, it was likely to be safe from any enforcement action under the 10 year rule.
We therefore applied on his behalf for a certificate of lawfulness for the use of the house as a HMO. We worked closely with the client to pull together detailed evidence of the HMO use over many years.
We were delighted when the council issued the certificate, satisfied that we had demonstrated the continuous use over ten years.
We are experts in planning and HMOs. Our CEO, Martin Gaine, has written a book on the subject, available on his website here. There is also a dedicated page for HMOs here, including a helpful cheatsheet explaining how the planning system works when it comes to HMOs.
If you have a development without planning permission and wonder if it might be immune from enforcement action by virtue of the passage of time, contact our team for some advice on your situation.