Student landlords race to beat planning deadline

Student landlords in Chester have a few months to beat a planning permission deadline imposed on opening new shared homes.

Cheshire West councillors have voted to make the city’s Garden Quarter a no-go zone for more homes in multiple occupation (HMOs).

They say the neighbourhood has enough HMOs, mainly let to students, and landlords wanting to convert more family homes to shared houses must apply for planning permission.

The ban applies to all homes shared by three to five tenants who are not related.

Landlords wanting to buy or convert homes in to student digs have until July 2013 – then they must ask the council for planning permission.

Any shared house that is let as an HMO in November will be deemed to have permission. The owner will not have to make any planning application.

Councillor Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity, said: “We have listened to the concerns of residents about the problems associated with the uncontrolled growth of houses of multiple of occupation.

“We are trying to ensure the quality of life of people living in the Garden Quarter is maintained and that they don’t have to put up with constant change in their neighbourhood.”

Elsewhere, councillors in Inverness are likely to reject a call for similar planning powers over shared houses in the city centre despite protests from businesses.

Highland Council will vote on a recommendation not to limit HMOs – but will think again when the number of shared houses reaches 10% of all homes in the city centre.

Businesses are disappointed and as the move considers the number of HMOs but ignores how many tenants live there – which could add up to 20 or more students per shared house.

Inverness Business Improvement District manager Mike Smith said: “The recommendation for a 10% concentration qualification is not relevant as one HMO unit may house three to five people while another could have as many as 20, 30 or even 40.”

A 400-name petition was handed to councillors by business leaders to show their dissatisfaction with the decision.

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