Council press release:
Residents in Katesgrove, Park and Redlands Wards are set to benefit from the introduction of new controls which will see landlords having to apply for planning permission if they want to convert their property into a small house of multiple occupation (HMO).
Known as an Article 4 Direction, the proposed new planning control will mean that landlords who want to convert a property into a shared house for three to six unrelated people (small HMO) will need permission. At present planning permission is only required for HMO's occupied by more than 6 unrelated people.
Reading is unique in the region in that it is estimated to be home to three-quarters of HMOs in the whole of Berkshire. More than one in four (26%) of the whole of Reading's housing stock is made up of private rented sector housing and there are estimated to be around 3,500 properties providing bed-sit or shared accommodation for approximately 18,000 residents across the town.
A public consultation was carried out around the University area towards the end of 2011. Responses from residents pointed to a range of impacts that the concentrations of HMOs had on the character and appearance of their communities and on their quality of life.
As a result of that evidence, Reading Borough Council is in the process of using planning powers passed by central government in 2010 to retain some planning control over small HMOs.
A report will now go to a meeting of Reading Borough Council's Cabinet on October. If adopted, anyone within the area covered by the new planning control wishing to convert their property to a small HMO after 16th May 2013 will need to submit a planning application for a change of use of their property.
Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Regeneration and Planning, Tony Page, said: 'This measure is long overdue in Reading and the Council has always been committed to ensuring that HMOs do not negatively impact local communities and that the properties are of a high standard..'
Reading Borough Council's Lead Councillor for Neighbourhood and Housing, Rachel Eden, said: "This new power will mean that new HMOs will need to show they are not going to cause problems and will provide good accommodation for their tenants. It's part of the broader picture of working towards our important private rented sector providing decent homes for tenants, we have pleasant neighbourhoods and that good landlords are welcomed while the rogue minority are not. It's important to realise though that existing HMOs are not affected."