Councils can now charge a fee when an Article 4 Direction has been implemented, which is causing the National Landlords Association (NLA) to call for a repeal.
An Article 4 Direction is made in order to restrict development rights, meaning that more people find themselves having to put in paid requests for planning consent.
Local authorities can determine the removal of development rights in certain areas, meaning anyone wanting to change the use of a property or make alterations would require planning permission. This would even go as far as to include homeowners. The Government claims that these have been put in place in some cases to protect local amenities or the wellbeing of an area.
The Town and Country Planning Acts experienced changes last December, allowing local authorities to charge a fee of £462 to those applying for planning permission in order to make changes to a property in the circumstance that development rights have been withdrawn. Not much has been mentioned so far about this alteration, and it only comes into affect when an Article 4 Direction is in place.
When looking into the possible changes that could require planning permission, we are looking at amendments such as the addition of a conservatory, an extension or a porch. As a landlord, if you were looking to convert a property to or from a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you will have to apply for permission and pay the fee. The success of the application is not guaranteed, so the entire process could even leave you out of pocket and back to square one. However, not all areas have Article 4 Directions, giving them the freedom of building without having to apply for planning permission.
Richard Lambert, the CEO of the NLA, has voiced his acknowledgement of the frustration caused for those effected. He said: “Article 4 Directions have long been a bugbear for landlords wanting the ability to change the structure of their portfolios. The introduction of the fee is nothing more than another revenue generating exercise.”
He points out the questionable intentions behind the whole process, stating: “Councils are effectively removing permission and then charging people to get it back.”
Lambert believes that, despite councillors repeatedly stating at the introduction of an Article 4 Direction that shared properties will revert back to family use, this will never be the case. He has said: “It’s more likely that the existing tenures will be set in stone, as HMO landlords won’t let to a single family if it means losing the option to go back to letting to sharers later on.”