Rebel landlords should overwhelm town halls with spurious planning applications to protest about moves for more local controls over shared houses.
Leading property lawyers Painsmiths are urging house in multiple occupation (HMO) landlords should take action to show councils the strength of their feelings over ‘article 4′ powers.
The powers – under part of the Town and Country Planning Act – let councils control HMO development in neighbourhoods by making sure the owners have planning permission before they open.
The threat drown planners in a sea of applications exploits a legal loophole that makes councils bear the costs of dealing with applications.
Lawyers claim article 4 powers are pointless
Housing Minister Grant Shapps reversed HMO planning laws requiring every landlord to apply for permission before letting a shared house. He said the costs of the scheme outweighed the benefits.
The Communities and Local Government Department reckons the move saves unnecessarily investigating 8,500 planning applications a year in England.
It should also be noted that Oxford is not permitted to charge a planning application fee for applications made as a result of an article 4 direction and one possible way of frustrating the proposals is simply for a large number of landlords to make applications thereby tying up resources,” says the Painsmith.
Painsmith also commented that taking on article 4 powers makes no difference to landlords as converting from a family home to a shared rental house does not need planning consent under current law.
The lawyers argue if a large adult family lives in a home, has several cars and even if one or more is a lodger, the use is no different from three or four students sharing a house.