The Government faces a High Court challenge over the relaxation of rules introduced by the Labour administration.
Labour introduced a new planning class of Houses in Multiple Occupation, which meant that landlords who had been letting out properties to single households had to apply for planning permission if they then wanted to let the property out to a small group of sharers.
The Coalition swiftly reversed this, citing common sense, and allowed local councils to make up their own minds if they wanted to use the planning system to control HMOs.
If councils want to restore the requirement for planning permission, they can do so by making an Article 4 direction under the Town and Country Planning Act 1995.
Such a direction could take up to a year to come into force and might involve authorities having to pay out compensation if there is a resulting loss in the property’s value.
Four local authorities have now won permission to launch a judicial review into the change.
The challenge is being brought by Charnwood, Newcastle, Oxford and Milton Keynes councils.
The National Landlords’ Association has launched a campaign against Portsmouth Council’s decision to consider introducing an Article 4 direction. The decision is expected tonight. See the next story.