Feeling sore over Article Four

Article 4 Directions have long been the scourge of landlords who offer property to rent both to single households and small groups of sharers.

Since 2010 in England (and much more recently in Wales) the introduction of the C4 Planning Use Class for small HMOs has meant that letting a house or flat to two or more households has represented a material change of use – technically requiring planning permission. Fortunately, in England at least, this is covered by general permitted development meaning that no application is required.

Unless the local authority has designated an Article 4 Direction removing all permitted development rights, and subsequently requiring landlords to apply for planning permission before letting to sharers instead of a single household or family.

The only saving-grace has been that where permitted development rights have been removed – no planning application charge could be levied.

Until now!

Thanks to an easily missed statutory instrument tabled before Christmas 2017, a landlord may now have to pay a fee (increased to £462.00) for applying for a change of use in an area where permitted development has been withdrawn.

Under the new law a landlord in ‘Council area A’, where there is permitted development will not have a fee to pay – as no application is necessary. Yet in ‘Council area B’, where permitted development rights have been removed through an Article 4 Direction, a fee of £462.00 may be demanded.

This change encourages local authorities to remove permitted development so they can gather a fee from landlords.

The likely impact of the policy will be a further entrenchment of those properties that are already in shared usage; as if a landlord wishes to change the use where permitted development has been removed, even for a short period, and then convert back a fee will be applicable.

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