Converting a property into a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) used to be a relatively straight forward process, you would carry out your HMO works and file for a HMO license. Sadly, those times have now passed. Investors now face a more daunting route into HMO investment.
From 25th February 2016, Wales saw its first significant changes to the way the HMO licensing procedure takes place. The introduction of subclasses C4 (3-6 tenants) and Sui Generis (7+ tenants) will have a profound impact on landlords across Swansea wishing to convert their properties into HMOs in Wales.
The introduction of the Classes Amendment Order 2016 means that landlords now require planning permission to change a dwelling’s use from a C3 (dwelling house) to a C4/Sui Generis. Permission will be permitted providing the property meets the new planning criteria.
Swansea Council has followed the same path as Cardiff Council in a bid to foil the creation of new HMOs. Swansea Council have released the final Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) draft which is likely to be approved by the end of 2017, which may spell the end of new HMOs in the Uplands and Castle Wards.
In summary, the new guidance will see Swansea Council enrol a ‘Threshold Approach’ aiming to reduce the density of HMOs. They will restrict the concentration of HMOs within a 65m radius of the property in question to 30% in the defined Management Area (Uplands and Castle Wards -but not all) and 10% outside the defined HMO Management Area (parts of Uplands/Castle Wards – and all other Wards).
For example, if an owner wishes to convert a C3 dwelling (dwelling house) property in Uplands to a C4 (3-6 tenants) or Sui Generis (7+ tenants) planning classification, they will only be permitted to do so if no more than 30% of properties within a 65m radius of the property in question are pre-existing HMOs.
The vast majority (98%) of existing licensed HMOs in Swansea are situated in either the Uplands Ward (67%) or Castle Ward (31%).The threshold will most likely be exceeded in many parts of these wards, including roads such as Bryn Road, King Edwards Road, St Helens Avenue. The ‘Threshold Approach’ will directly affect applications in these areas, rejection being the probable outcome.
When the SPG comes into effect, the Council’s new found guidance will see them rejecting any ‘Change of Use Applications’ that breech the thresholds. Appeals can be made, but how they handle these and the HMOs future remains to be seen.
For more information on how these changes might impact your investment please contact Josh at or pop into the office: 117 Walter Road, Swansea, SA1 5RH.