Case Study : HMO enforcement appeal

BRIEF

We were instructed to overturn an enforcement notice issued against the use of a large dwelling as an HMO and self-contained flats.

KEY ISSUES

Enforcement; Project Management;Specialist Reports; London.

LPA

London Borough of Haringey

The Challenge

The owner of a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), had received an enforcement notice which alleged that the property did not have planning permission to be used as a 6 bed HMO and self-contained flats. The council requested that it should be returned to a family home within 3 months.

To complicate the case further, three key allegations had been levied by the council as part of the enforcement notice:

  1. the Council claimed that the vertical arrangement of the rooms (known as "stacking") was unsatisfactory;
  2. the Council argued that the room sizes were too small;
  3. the Council stated that the over intensive use of the property (as a 6 bedroom HMO) resulted in an unacceptable impact on adjacent neighbours.

The owner of the property approached us to help tackle the enforcement notice.

SOLUTION

We undertook a full review of the site, its history, and current circumstances. We coupled this with an analysis of the housing need situation in London, local policy implications, other material considerations and relevant case law.

We advised our client on what further evidence would be required to form a complete and robust appeal against the enforcement notice. The evidence obtained was analysed, reviewed and presented alongside our full planning arguments. An appeal submission was made to the Planning Inspectorate in good time.

To tackle the Council's many matters of objection, we appealed on a number of grounds. These included:

  • That planning permission for the HMO should be granted (known as "Ground A"). This included justifying stacking, room sizes, and the intensity of the use;
  • That the matters alleged in the notice had not occurred (known as "Ground B");
  • That the matters, if they occurred, did not constitute a breach of control (known as "Ground C");
  • That no enforcement action could be taken in respect to the HMO (known as "Ground D").

Following the submission of the appeal, we set out the appellant’s position in a ‘without prejudice’ letter, and suggested that the London Borough of Haringey could withdraw the notice under s173A of The Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The Local Planning Authority responded in an open-minded and pragmatic way, and finally agreed that our case was strong enough for them to withdraw the enforcement notice - without further cost or threat to our client.