Grant Shapps, Minister for Housing has announced a reversal of the anti-student legislation that was introduced by the previous Government in April 2010. This means that as of 1 October, the will be no automatic requirement for planning permission to let a property out to three or more unrelated people. NUS, and a number of other organisations, had campaigned for this change as the current restrictions would limit access to affordable rented housing to students and many other groups, including migrant workers, key workers and young professionals.
In April 2010, changes were made to one category of 'Use Class Order'
- the definitions used by planning authorities. The Use Class Order in question was th 'C3' dwellinghouse. The C3 Use Class had previously covered all homes where families or up to 6 unrelated people lived together. However, this number was drastically reduced to less than 3 unrelated people in a bid to remove students and other groups who rent homes together from certain areas. The change also introduced a specific Use Class 'C4' for groups of 3 to 6 unrelated people. To make a property a 'C4', a landord would need to apply for planning permission, a lengthy, costly and bureaucratic process that often leads to refusal.
NUS and many individual students’ unions, as well as a number of other organisations, had campaigned
against this type of anti-student legislation. Not only for the fact that such legislation restricted where students could live, without offering any feasible alternatives, but also because it limited access to HMO housing. In the current economic climate, and when the average age for buying a property is 37 years old, to restrict the most affordable and readily accessible housing seemed non-sensical. This is also the housing that is relied upon by nurses, teachers, migrant workers, young professionals and many more – this is not just a student issue.
The announcement today means that as of October 1, there will be no requirement for a landlord to obtain planning permission to let a house to three or more people. In areas where there is a genuine need to limit the number of rented homes, another statutory instrument will allow those local authorities to introduce an Article 4 direction to make a requirement for planning permission. Where this is introduced in less that 12 months from the announcement, compensation will be payable to the landlords affected. If it is introduced over a longer a period, then the local authority will not be reuiqred to pay compensation. More information on this can be found here.
We feel this situation, is a far better compromise than what we are currently operating in, and hope this will encourage better strategic and long-term planning for student housing by students’ unions, institutions and local authorites.
Additionally, October 1 will also see the laying down of another statutory instrument, raising the threshold for annual rental income for an Assured Shorthold Tenancy from £25,000 to £100,000. This measure will see thousands of students currently outside of Tenancy Deposit Legislation in England and Wales eligible for this protection in law. This change was a direct result of a campaign run by NUS
and Unipol in 2008.