What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan
Leeds HMO Lobby
Use Classes Order
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
UCO & HMO
During 2008, CLG will be issuing a consultation paper inviting
comments on the potential changes to the current Use
Class Order, particularly in relation to Use Class Order for
dwellings (C3) and the current definitions of what constitutes HMOs.
CLG have therefore commissioned research to inform the consultation
The National HMO Lobby's concern is with (a) restoration of those
neighbourhoods where concentrations of HMOs have had a detrimental
impact on balance, cohesion and sustainability, and (b) prevention
of the same damage being done in other neighbourhoods.
To identify good practice in areas with high concentrations
of HMOs (particularly those occupied by students).
# NB Student demand is undoubtedly the major driver of concentrations
of HMOs, but it is the concentrations (not the particular
market) which raise problems - and these arise, not only in university
towns (for students), but also in seaside towns (for benefit claimants),
market towns (for migrant workers), and so on. The symptoms vary,
but the common underlying problem is transience.
# NB2 Concentrations of student HMOs are not only detrimental to
the host neighbourhood in particular - but are also detrimental
to local housing supply in general. First homes for families are
converted to seasonal second homes for students.
# The National HMO Lobby recommends a Ten
Point Plan as the basis for good practice.
Current good practice includes -
# Local Stakeholder Forum, comprising (e.g.) the local
authority, local community associations, local HEIs, local student
unions, and the local PRS [e.g. Leeds' Shared Housing Group, Nottingham's
Student Strategy Leadership Group].
# Action Plan agreed by the members of the Forum [e.g.
Leeds' SHAP, Nottingham's Balanced Communities Student Housing Action
# Action on Causes, i.e. demographics: planning policies
(e.g. Leeds' UDP Policies H15, H15A, LDF City Centre AAP, etc; Nottingham's
Balanced Communities SPD]; housing policies [e.g. Leeds' Housing
Strategy for the Area of Housing Mix, Nottingham's Housing Strategy
# Action on Effects, social, environmental, economic [e.g.
in Leeds, Cumulative Impact Policy, DPPO, Flyer Control Zone, Direction
on Letting Boards, Streetscene, flyposting drums, RPZs, Additional
HMO Licensing (tbc); also, Community Planning Officer, Neighbourhood
Helpline, Students & Community Group; in Nottingham, HMO Action
Zones, Student Co-ordination & Delivery Group].
To test whether these ideas could have a wider application
to other areas which are experiencing problems.
First, how effective has been good practice? In fact, its success
has been very limited. . In some towns, some success has been achieved
in tackling the environmental issues, but none (or very little indeed)
in tackling the imbalance in the community and loss of family housing.
# Malfunction of Stakeholder Fora -
a) 'partnership' members may have conflicting objectives (especially,
university/ student/landlord aims versus residents/local authority);
b) the problem is not accepted by some partners (some students see
themselves as part of the community, even when they have in reality
replaced the local community with their own);
c) lack of continuity in the partnership (e.g. student representatives
change every year).
# Resources are inadequate (unless poached from services
# Powers are inadequate, especially planning controls (and
some partners are unwilling to use the powers they have).
# Effects are tackled, rather than fundamental causes.
# Timing is too late, the damage has been done, practices
constitute a rear-guard action.
So, wider application depends on -
# adopting good practice identified above - but also -
# surmounting the barriers to success also identified.
To determine whether (and if so what) planning policy is
a suitable lever to tackle these problems.
The Use Classes Order is
the most relevant planning lever.
# HMOs represent a distinct land usage, in terms of occupancy, occupation,
occupants, occupiers (distinct equally from Class C1, from Class
C2 and from Class C3).
# The present Order does not recognise this distinction, and therefore
a) a new definition of HMO (the Housing Act 2004 provides the obvious
b) a new classification, either a new Class C4, or sui generis
# Hence, conversion of a property to HMO constitutes change-of-use,
and therefore requires planning permission.
Objections to UCO amendment are not significant.
# It won't reverse the present concentrations: of course
it won't; but there is still need to control HMOs - around new universities,
where universities are expanding, and even around established universities,
due to internal migration by students.
# It will increase red-tape: of course it will, where needed;
but this does not mean everywhere - the power is an option to be
used, not a requirement.
# In fact, the power will only effectively be applicable where the
local planning authority has adopted appropriate local planning
policies (Areas of Restraint, Thresholds, etc).
# It will damage the housing market: this is unlikely;
in fact the market actually damages housing supply - HMO conversion
consists often of conversion of a first home for a family into a
seasonal second home for students.
# It will penalise first-time buyers taking lodgers to cover
their mortgage: local planning authorities can adopt local
policies, allowing permission for HMOs where the owner is in occupation.
There are also other planning considerations.
# Dr Julie Rugg (currently conducting CLG's PRS
Review) has recommended that "a housing strategy should
be integral to the expansion plans of every HEI, and comprise an
analysis of likely impacts on the local rental market and consultation
with local community groups" (Rugg et al, 2000).
# The Planning Inspectorate's role needs reconsideration -
a) Inspectors are frequently unfamiliar with local demographic problems;
b) Inspectors often take an un-necessarily literal approach to planning
c) Inspectors give insufficient attention to PPS3 on mixed communities.
Dr Richard Tyler, National HMO Lobby, April 2008
National HMO Lobby