Bath buyers ‘rush to snap up homes’ ahead of student rent deadline
Landlords are snapping up more homes to rent out to students in Bath to beat a deadline which will usher in a new planning crackdown.
Council chiefs have announced that rules curbing the number of family homes that can be turned into shared accommodation will be coming in next year.
Estate agents say the 12-month warning issued earlier this year has triggered a flurry of house-buying by investment landlords, and opposition politicians say the crackdown could backfire.
Bath and North East Somerset Council’s Article 4 Direction would limit the number of homes which can be converted into shared housing – otherwise known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
Limited Deal. All day wedding photography only £545.00View details
All day wedding photography only £545.00
From Bridal preparations to first dance.
250+ Hi Res images on disc with full printing rights.
Professional photography at affordable prices.
Free no obligation consultations.
Offer subject to availability.
Book before 31st May 2013.
Available in Bath, Bristol and surrounding areas.
Contact: 01225 439257
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The proposals due to come in on July 1 would mean that planning permission would be needed for such work, and that this would not normally be given if more than a quarter of homes within 100 metres had already been converted.
Councillor Geoff Ward (Con, Bathavon North), Tory spokesman for homes and planning on the council, said: “By effectively giving landlords a year-long warning that they intend to bring in this policy, the Lib Dems have allowed them time to snap up a large number of the remaining family homes before the directive is implemented.
“In addition, B&NES has also admitted this policy could actually increase the number of student houses in many areas, by simply pushing the problem on to other parts of the city which currently have low student populations.”
The Tories claim that experience in other towns and cities suggests that house prices could drop by between 15 and 33 per cent once the Article 4 Direction is implemented, as properties become unattractive to buy-to-let investors.
They have called for greater priority to be given to building more dedicated student accommodation.
Estate agent Carey Gilliland of Oldfield Park firm Madison Oakley said: “We have certainly noticed a major upsurge in buy to let activity within the Oldfield Park area within the last year as landlords are extremely keen to beat any Article 4 deadline. As one illustration of this upsurge, we have sold five terraced houses in the last fortnight within Oldfield Park, all of which experienced competitive bids at or over asking price and all were sold subject to contract to buy-to-let investors.”
Mr Gilliland said some houses in the area would be worth less and added: “Buy-to-let investors currently make up over 50 per cent of the potential buyers in Oldfield Park – losing this sector of the market entirely is bound to affect value.”
Oldfield Park councillor Will Sandry (Lib Dem, Oldfield) said the then housing minister, Conservative MP Grant Shapps, had insisted councils wanting to implement such Article 4 Directions should give 12 months’ notice. He said investors had also threatened to sue B&NES if the notice period was not given.
Mr Sandry, who also chairs the city’s Student Community Partnership, said: “A consequence of the Article 4 Direction could well be that HMOs become more evenly distributed around the city, but they will be limited to a maximum of 25 per cent and also be limited by other factors such as transport links and property price.”
He added: “To talk about a 15 or 33 per cent decreases is simply simply scaremongering. Bath is not Nottingham or Leeds and has a resilient property market. There are also plenty of individual buyers out there, they are just being outgunned by the cash-buying investor at the moment.”
Mr Sandry said the Tories were “out of touch with the new student accommodation which is planned in the city.”