Claims controversial HMO law is to prevent 'studentification' of Wolverhampton refuted by council

A controversial new rule that requires homes shared by multiple households in Wolverhampton to have planning permission has been brought in to prevent over ‘studentification,’ it has been claimed.

Official approval is now required to convert a property in the city to a house in multiple occupation, known as an HMO, accommodating three to six people.

Wolverhampton Council is one of more than 30 local authorities in university cities including Bath, Manchester and Bristol to have introduced the rule, known as Article 4.

Bosses at the council say the 'main aim' is to increase the quality of HMOs, which have been criticised for often poor living conditions for tenants.

But one planning specialist has claimed the council is introducing Article 4 to "prevent over ‘studentification’ of areas."

Mark Turner, a solicitor at FBC Manby Bowdler, said: "These councils, including Wolverhampton, have used Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights in certain areas so that anyone wanting to convert a family house to a small HMO would need planning permission for the change of use.

“For residential landlords, this means that they will need to get planning permission if they are proposing to rent their private houses out to a group of up to six unrelated people.

“It’s a controversial move because some consider students and young professionals to be valuable to the local economy because they use the shops, pubs, takeaways, cafes and restaurants etc. However, others dislike the anti social behaviour, which can be associated with these groups, particularly students.

“Wolverhampton City Council has obviously introduced the Article 4 direction to prevent over ‘studentification’ of areas."

Previously homes in Wolverhampton could be adapted to HMOs without planning permission.

A Wolverhampton council spokesman, said: “Article 4 has been brought in to control the proliferation of smaller properties being converted into HMOs.

“It is aimed at maintaining good living standards for tenants and is part of our quality, standards and choice message in the private rented sector.

“There is a high demand for affordable housing but it needs to meet the appropriate health and safety standards and be well managed.

“Article 4 enables us to be on the front foot with these standards through planning."

HMOs are frequently rented to students and young professionals.

Thousands of University of Wolverhampton students live in the city.

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