Tory Councillors Misleading Residents?

In a recent copy of the Conservative community newsletter ‘intouch’ – published on behalf of Englefield Green councillors Marisa Heath, Nigel King and Nick Prescot – an article attributed to Nick Prescott claimed that he had ‘looked into the whole issue of Homes in Multiple Occupation’.

Prescot claimed that ‘It’s not practicable or perhaps possible to restrict these by regulation’ and went on to claim that ‘The Council’s own Local Plan … projects a reduction in HMO’s’ (sic).

The Council’s Local Plan actually makes no mention of HMOs at all and certainly no projection of future numbers.

Prescot’s claim that it’s not practicable or possible to restrict HMOs by regulation is also highly suspect.  In fact, HMOs can be restricted using two means: HMO licence regulations and through the planning regime.

The HMO licence conditions are used to define how properties used as HMOs are managed and maintained and the minimum set of legally required conditions are included in the Housing Act 2004.

Further, councils can use planning legislation to control and restrict the number of properties being converted into HMOs.

Properties intended as an HMO for 7 or more occupants require planning permission by law although the conversion of a property for fewer occupants does not as it is regarded as ‘permitted development’.  However, councils can introduce ‘Article 4 Directions’ to bring smaller properties within the planning regime too, and many councils have already done this.

So it would seem that the Conservative councillors’ ‘news’, and Prescot’s claims in particular, are completely misleading and one can only speculate as to why they would publish this. One piece of advice that doesn’t need much looking into though is: take what your local Conservatives tell you with a large pinch of salt!