Laura Rowe of Coodes Solicitors’ Residential Property team comments on changes to regulations for landlords renting out properties in Falmouth.
Falmouth has almost half of Cornwall’s houses of multiple occupation (HMOs). Typically inhabited by students, these are houses that are shared by three or more people who are not related. The increase in HMOs is the result of the growth of the university campuses. Falmouth’s Neighbourhood plan has come up with a way of reducing the number of potential family homes being converted into HMOs.
Landlords do not currently need to apply for planning permission to convert a property into an HMO. However, from 16th June 2017, Cornwall Council will issue an Article 4 Direction to limit new HMOs being created in Falmouth. The rationale behind the change is to better balance the housing needs of students with the rest of the community.
A Falmouth landlord who wants to convert a home that was previously let to a family into a HMO will need to make a planning application to Cornwall Council. They will need to apply for a ‘change of use’ and an HMO Licence, which includes providing appropriate documents and paying a fee. Initially this will only apply to properties with a minimum of five bedrooms but this is due to change in the autumn.
The local authority has advised that the new regulations will not affect properties that are already being used as HMOs. Landlords of these property will therefore not need to apply to the local authority for a change of use or a HMO Licence. This may of course change in the future. I would therefore recommend that letting agents and Falmouth landlords keep up to date with the Council’s requirements.