Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced new regulations on shared houses which could cut as many as 8,500 planning applications from the system, freeing up councils to focus on other priorities.
Currently landlords have to submit a planning application to rent their properties to unrelated tenants – known as Houses in Multiple Occupation. Today’s changes will mean that councils only have to use this power where they know high concentrations of shared homes are a problem.
Shapps said: “Councils understand their local area best, and they don’t need burdensome rules that assume housing issues in every town, village and hamlet are exactly the same. I am also committed to safeguard the supply of rented housing – shared homes are vital for people who want to live and work in towns and cities, and are important to the economy.
“That’s why I’m giving councils greater flexibility to manage shared homes in their local area. Where there are local issues with shared homes, councils will have all the tools they need to deal with the problem – but they will avoid getting bogged down in pointless applications, and landlords won’t be put off renting shared homes where they are needed.”
Too many shared homes in one area can cause problems. A high number of short term tenants with little stake in the community can leave an area with an unloved look and feel, which can sometimes create seasonal ghost towns that harm local economies, anti-social behaviour and an increase in crime.
But Shapps said that a blanket requirement to manage these through the planning system is a drain on council resources, and threatens to drive good landlords away from the rental sector because of increased costs and red tape, therefore restricting availability of affordable homes for rent.