Liverpool City Council is to limit the practice of converting smaller homes into houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
The council’s Cabinet approved a recommendation to confirm an Article 4 direction, which will protect more than 60,000 homes in the city.
The decision follows a two month long public consultation on the issue, in which more than 850 people responded and showed 81% of people in favour of the move., with 13% against the proposal.
Over the past decade, Liverpool has seen a significant growth in the number of HMOs, with its rising student population and current housing benefit rules fuelling a demand for single person households.
Fears have been expressed that the volume of HMOs has reached a ‘tipping point’, which is threatening the housing offer in the city for families and causing parking, anti-social behaviour and waste collection issues in certain neighbourhoods.
Currently, conversion of family houses into larger HMOs, seven bedrooms and above, must have planning permission, meaning that the council has some ability to influence where and how larger HMOs are developed.
Now Liverpool City Council will introduce the same rules across the inner core of the city for any new HMOs of less than seven bedrooms from 17 June 2021, with these changes not having an impact on existing HMOs.
This is not the first time the council has adopted this change, as in 2018, it implemented an Article 4 direction in the Dales area of the Greenbank ward in the south of the city.
This broader step across 11 council wards follows a commitment made in Liverpool’s Draft Local Plan to utilise Article 4 to control smaller HMO development elsewhere in the city.
The new Article 4 Direction will apply to the following wards:
• Kensington and Fairfield
• Princess Park
• Tuebrook and Stoneycroft
Part of the following electoral wards will also be included:
Commenting, Liverpool City Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration Projects, Councillor Barry Kushner said: “Residents have told us how much HMOs are damaging the fabric and stability of their community. I’m delighted to say we have listened to those concerns and are seeking to take control of where these conversions can happen.
“As a council, we need to have the ability to offer families of all different sizes and people with a whole host of needs a variety of good quality, affordable homes.
“If unchecked, HMOs were in danger of reducing Liverpool’s offer, which is why we need to reset the dial whilst developing more social housing across the city.
“Changing the planning rules by introducing controls under Article 4 will not just protect the wellbeing of the people who live in these communities, it will also help protect the balance of our housing offer, which, in some areas, is close to a dangerous tipping point of being dominated by one-bedroom bedsits.
“Of course, Article 4 is not the whole answer to Liverpool’s housing problems. That is why we are preparing a new application for our Landlord Licensing Scheme to ensure good housing standards are maintained in the private rented sector and why the city council is embarking on a house building programme for the first time in 30 years.”