Bath & North East Somerset Council is the latest authority to get tough on HMOs by introducing new rules to prevent concentrations of them in certain areas.
Following a consultation last year, it will simplify the tests used to assess applications for new HMOs and provide more guidance on the ‘sandwich test’; they won’t be allowed where it would result in a residential property being sandwiched between two HMOs, where the application tips the concentration to 10% or more HMO properties within a 100m radius of the application property, or where there is already a concentration of 10% or more.
District-wide, a change of use from residential to a large HMO will require planning permission, while in Bath, a change of use from residential to a small HMO will also require planning permission as there is a city-wide Article 4 Direction in place.
Bath & North East Somerset also hopes to bring in more rules that mean all new HMOs would soon need to achieve an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or above and must provide a good standard of accommodation in relation to room sizes and noise reduction measures.
The council renewed its additional HMO licensing scheme for another five years in January 2019.
LibDem councillor Tim Ball, the cabinet member for planning and licensing, says HMOs have an important role to play in the local housing offer, by providing accommodation for a wide range of people.
But he adds: “Over recent years we have seen HMOs become concentrated in certain areas. These changes will ensure our communities remain sustainable with a wide variety and balance of accommodation.”
In December, nearby Bristol approved plans to extend landlord licensing in Brislington West, Bedminster and Horfield wards, including an additional scheme for HMOs with three or more unrelated people sharing facilities.