The Labour MP for Selly Oak recently used the Ten Minute Rule to introduce a bill regarding “ugly and badly designed extensions”.
In 2013 the Government relaxed planning permission rules, making it easier to build small scale extensions. Steve McCabe MP claims that the laws are being taken advantage of by “unscrupulous” landlords in order to increase their profit. They build HMO extensions with little care for how they look. McCabe stated:
“They are cutting corners, building beyond the plans and in some cases building things I think are deathtraps.”
This is leading to the creation of ugly HMO extensions, with the sole purpose of housing as many students as possible. The Labour MP claimed that this is now having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of the owner occupiers within his constituency, as well as the people which live in them. Due to Birmingham’s large university presence, it is often students which live in these ugly HMO extensions.
It will be interesting to see whether the trend of extending existing properties increases. This may well be the case as the new Stamp Duty Tax is now in full swing. Landlords may look to simply increase the profit of their current portfolio by extending properties, rather than buying new property. Although, any landlord looking to build an extension and turn a property into an HMO should always look at the laws surrounding it.
Bad News for Letting Agents
Steve McCabe MP also hit out at letting signs within his constituency. He claimed that some signs were left out year round. He stated that it was obvious that “letting agent board regulations aren’t being adhered to” and the landlords were privy to this. A clamp down on free advertising is never going to be good. However, this comes at a time where Liberal Democrat Baroness Grender’s Renters’ Rights Bill is moving through parliament, aiming to curb what tenant’s can be charged by letting agents when moving.
Although Steve McCabe’s bill was never designed to make it into law, it was simply introduced to highlight a problem within his constituency, it represents an interesting change. Both McCabe and Grender are focusing much less on the landlord, and much more on the tenant. Both raise issues about the quality of living for the tenant. Be it the quality of the extension or the amount it costs someone to move. On top of this is the change to Stamp Duty for landlords – discouraging would-be buyers. It appears that the Premiership of Theresa May could hold some interesting changes in tact regarding the private rental sector.