Under the council’s plans, applications for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) would be refused in areas where 10% or more of properties have already been converted into multiple occupancy homes.
The council would also refuse permission for HMOs where they resulted in a non-HMO property being ‘sandwiched’ between two HMOs.
The move would hit landlords in the area at a time they may be considering HMOs in light of regulatory changes to buy to let.
The council said the city has seen a significant increase in HMOs over the last 10-15 years, as an affordable option for students, professionals and migrant workers. Its planning scrutiny committee met last week to discuss the proposals.
It is three years since the council removed permitted development rights for converting residential properties to small HMOs, which now require planning permission. Under controls introduced at that time, the threshold was set at 25% of properties in any one area.
The proposals to reduce this are subject to statutory six-week consultation before likely implementation in September/October.
Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council Cllr Tim Warren said: “These proposals are responding to concerns raised by residents about the proliferation of HMOs in parts of Bath and the impact this can have on the mix of available housing in the area. As a Council our aim is to ensure that Bath has a balanced mix of housing types to meet the needs of the city, and the growing number of HMOs in recent years has become an increasing concern for many residents.”
Cabinet assistant for homes and planning Cllr Bob Goodman has been leading the review of HMO policy. He said: “Whilst these proposals won’t prevent all new HMOs from gaining planning permission, it will help to control their growth and prevent further areas from developing with high concentrations. We recognise the role HMOs have to play as part of our area’s wider mix of housing stock, not just for students but particularly for young professionals as well. However, we also believe it is right to control their growth and ensure a balance of housing types within communities.”
In the coming weeks we will therefore be listening to feedback on these proposals, and depending on this feedback a full public consultation will be undertaken prior to adopting any changes in the autumn.