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Northern council prepares planning crackdown against HMO conversions

Bolton council has revealed its intention to begin a coordinated campaign to rein-in the creation of more HMOs within its boundary including via planning and parking rules and, in addition, a focus on council tax re-banding.

Landlords seeking to convert larger HMOs for six or more residents have faced planning restrictions in the town for some time but the council is now considering to both extend this to other HMOs and kick-off a wider crack-down on this type of rented property.

Cllr Paul Heslop (pictured), who represents Kearsley which is one of the areas locally where HMOs are most common, told a meeting of the full council he welcome plans to crack down on HMOs which will be kicked off via a policy group review.

“We hope it will be all encompassing, not just about Article Four [planning], because there are lots of other issues around HMOs,” he said.

Housing targets

Heslop and several other councillors have become aware that a raft of planning applications to turn former pubs and larger family homes into HMOs are proving controversial within the town, even though local landlords have argued they are one of the easiest ways the council can meet its housing targets.

During the meeting familiar arguments against HMOs (and other types of housing development) were rolled out including that they are overcrowded, create traffic congestion on the roads and increase pressure on public services.


Cllr Sean Fielding (main picture, speaking) said; “I have concerns over the way that larger family housing is being taken out of the market via their conversion to HMOs, blaming their proliferation on the 2010 relaxation of HMO planning rules by the Tory/LibDem coalition.

This debate, which took place during the most recent full council meeting, included concerns over Council Tax banding – a controversial issue that proposes, as other councils have recently, that HMO tenants should pay full council tax rather than a share of the levy.

As Bolton’s statement on the subject puts it: “Unlike the Poll Tax which was incredibly punitive to people of the same household, we may face a future situation where this council needs to provide multiple services to multiple households – in one dwelling - despite potentially receiving a fraction of the revenue for these services”.

Bolton also operates an additional licencing scheme for HMO landlords.

The Government is currently undertaking a consultation on the issue.


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