Campaigns Local Government South West

New HMO Legislation Implemented in Cornwall

India Cocking
Written by India Cocking

After a consultation last year, Cornwall Council have announced that this month would see the start of a new Article 4 direction. This scheme will come into force on 16th June 2017 and effect the area of Falmouth.

The full designation map can be seen here.

What is an Article 4 Direction? 

Article 4 directions restrict permitted rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere in the local authority’s area. When an article 4 direction is in effect, a planning application may be require for development that would have otherwise been permitted. Where an article 4 direction is in operation relating to Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) landlords must gain planning permission before converting what was formerly a Class 3 house (a family home) to a Class 4 home (a HMO). It is up to the local authority whether they implement an article 4 direction, and existing shared houses are not affected.

Article 4 Directions are used by local authorities to limit the number of HMOs in a geographical area. Falmouth has almost half of all Cornwall’s registered Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

A House of Multiple Occupancy usually is any type of living accommodation, including a self-contained flat, and there is a sharing of a toilet, washing facilities or cooking facilities by three or more unrelated people in two or more separate households. In addition, there are specific provisions which mean that converted blocks/buildings, (e.g., converted blocks of self contained flats or mixed accommodation where there is a mixture of self-contained and non-self-contained units), can be a HMO. You do not, always need a sharing of washing facilities, kitchen facilities or toilet facilities for there to be a HMO. If there are at least three unrelated people involved, then the property could be a HMO.

Sitting alongside the Article 4 will be Falmouth’s Neighbourhood Plan. The Neighbourhood Plan will set out where HMOs would and would not be permitted. Planning applications will be assessed against the policies set out in that plan. The Council claim that the intention isn’t to prevent HMOs, as they are recognised as a vital element of Falmouth’s housing options but that the Article 4 will be used to maintain a balanced and sustainable mix of housing options in particular locations by ensuring HMOs don’t reach unsustainable levels in concentrated areas.

To learn more about Article 4 Directions and to check whether your local area has one, visit our Article 4 page here.

We at The RLA believes these measures are generally the wrong legislation to deal with social problems perceived to be related to HMOs. Article 4 directions will stop landlords renting houses to families because they risk losing the existing rights to rent it out as a shared house, not change existing uses of HMOs when the Article 4 direction becomes effective so the number of HMOs will not reduce, and limit affordable housing popular with younger people.

To read the full details of Falmouth’s Article 4 Direction and to get in touch with the council, visit their website here.


About the author

India Cocking

India Cocking

India is the Local Government Officer for the RLA. Having completed her degree in International Politics at Aberystwyth University, India is currently working on updating and maintaining the Local Authority Network. This is of importance as it strengthens communication and understanding between landlords, local authorities, and the RLA. India is working towards gathering concise and clear data from all 435 local authorities on their licencing, fees, news, events and contact details.

Before joining the RLA India worked at Martin and Co Lettings Agent in her home town of Derby, the Welsh Assembly, and her local MP, alongside helping her parents run the family buy-to-let business.

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