The new legislation could make an accidental criminal out of you!

The new legislation came into force on the 6th April 2010 the new powers allow planning legislation to control the renting of shared properties to people who are not families or related tenants. Planning permission is needed if a landlord wants to rent what has been a family house or flat to three or more unrelated people.

This legislation could affect people like nurses, students, young professionals, immigrant workers and house and flat sharers.

The new legislation dictates who is allowed to live where and could be construed as being impractical. The impact could lead to homelessness with people unwilling to let to sharers because of having to obtain planning permission first.

Planning permission is required for a change of use from Class C3 (dwelling house) to a new Class C4 (house in multiple occupation), but changes from C4 to C3 will be permitted without an application. This change is linked to an amendment in the Use Classes Order announced in January 2010 as set out in The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2010.

The definition of a “house in multiple occupation” is found in section 254 of the Housing Act 2004. In broad terms, this use occurs where tenanted living accommodation is occupied by persons (a) – as their only or main residence. For example a person resident for the purpose of undertaking a full-time course of further or higher education is described under the Act as occupying the premises as their main residence.

(b) – Who are not related or form a family household, and who share one or more basic amenities. People are not regarded as forming a single household unless they are all members of the same family. People are members of the same family if they are married to each other or live together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex); or one of the household is a relative of the other; or one of them is a relative of, one member of a couple and the other is a relative of the other member of the couple.

This is a general guide not a substitute for professional advice