09 Dec 2020

A long-running case about a house divided up and let out without planning permission has resulted in a fine of nearly £10,000 for the owner.

Brighton & Hove council investigated the property back in July 2018. The owner, Shirley White, had divided up the house and was letting it out before she discovered she needed planning permission to convert the property to a house of multiple occupation.

The planning application was refused and planning enforcement action began shortly after. An appeal against the refusal of planning permission was also rejected.

An enforcement notice came into effect in January last year but the property was let out as an HMO again, so the council claims it had no alternative but to start legal action. 

Magistrates found the owner guilty of not complying with the enforcement notice and White was ordered to pay £7,830 and £2,003 in costs – a total fine of almost £10,000. 

Councillor Leo Littman, chair of the city’s planning committee, says: “Planning permission is there for a reason; it helps to ensure that the people who are going to live in shared housing have decent living space as well as taking into account potential pressures on neighbourhoods. 

“This decision sends a strong message that although we will always try and resolve planning issues through negotiation, if the rules are consistently broken we will resort to legal action.” 

A statement from the council says it recognises that HMOs provide essential low-cost accommodation for people living and working in a city where rents are high and insists “our planning policies are not designed to stop HMOs.”

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