Rules surrounding shared homes in Wales have changed – with the RLA warning members to be aware of how new planning definitions could affect purchases.
Residential Landlord Association policy director David Smith has written his latest blog post outlining the changes and what they mean to landlords – and said they could affect the number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) available to renters in Wales.
There are now two ‘relevant use classes’ for privately rented residential property. The C3 is for single households, that must be a family with some form of direct relationship.
The new C4 use class is for HMOs with up to 6 occupiers. That means that any sharers who are not one family (three friends for example) will now fall in this new C4 use class.
This means that if a landlord wants to change the use of a property from a family home to a HMO they will potentially need planning consent – although HMOs can be converted to family homes without needing permission.
David Smith said: “Planning consent operates independently from HMO licensing. So planning consent for C4 use does not guarantee an HMO licence will be granted and the granting of a HMO licence does not provide any certainty that planning consent from C4 use will be given. Additionally the C4 use class applied to all HMOs, even those that do not require licensing.
“Any property currently in use as a HMO can continue to be used that way. However if a property that has been used as a HMO is then used as a family home it may be difficult to use it as a HMO again. Going forward any further conversion of property to a HMO is likely to be difficult.
He added: “If a landlord is using a property as a HMO they would be well advised to ensure that they have evidence of historical use. Before buying a property for that use it would also be sensible to establish that there is evidence of historic use.
“As long as this exists it will be possible to continue HMO use. However there should be no expectation that further family homes can be moved to HMO use and anyone considering doing so should look to obtain an outline planning permission or a Certificate of Lawful Planned Use or Development before investing substantial funds.
“The long-term effect is likely to be a reduction in HMO property in Wales and a limit on more properties being used in this way.”
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