A trade body is calling on the government to repeal the fee that councils can now charge when an Article 4 Direction has been implemented.
Article 4 Directions removing permitted development rights in specific areas can be actioned by local authorities so anyone, including homeowners, wanting to change the use of a property or make alterations would need to apply for planning permission.
According to the government, these are put in place in certain limited situations where it is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of an area.
In a statement, the National Landlords Association says that last December an amendment was made to the Town and Country Planning Acts to allow local authorities to charge a £462 fee to anyone applying for planning permission to make alterations to their property where permitted development rights have been withdrawn.
This amendment was not widely publicised and is only applicable where an Article 4 Direction is in place.
Alterations that would need planning permission could include adding a conservatory, an extension or a porch. It also means that a landlord wishing to convert a property to or from a house in multiple occupation will need to apply for permission and pay the fee.
However this does not, of course, guarantee a successful application.
“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. Councils are effectively removing permission and then charging people to get it back” says NLA chief executive Richard Lambert.
“This will not result in shared properties reverting back to family use, as councillors repeatedly say when introducing Article 4 Directions. 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.”