When it comes to proposals for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), negative assumptions can often result in misunderstandings and consequently objections.

So, if you’re creating an HMO, how can you address neighbour concerns and avoid unfounded objections from slowing down works or planning permission?

  • Communicate

Platinum’s Head of Planning and Sustainability, Mahsa Khaneghah, who supports our franchise partners through their entire planning process, says that early communication is absolutely key:

“Planning applications can often stir up different emotions for neighbours, and whilst some will feel excited by new development, others could be apprehensive or strongly against any changes.

“Uncertainty exacerbates this. For example, neighbours can feel as though the planning process was circumvented if works have already begun on site, not necessarily knowing that permitted development rights were lawfully applied.

So, ensuring that a planning application is clear on context will help to address neighbour concerns at early stages.”

  • Be proactive

Mahsa also recommends a proactive approach:

“Introduce yourself to neighbours and provide them with business contact details so that they can get in touch with you directly rather than the Local Authority should there be any issues.

Also, once you have completed the project and are proud of the quality of housing you have achieved, why not open the doors to neighbours to have a look around. Creating these productive lines of communication can help to avoid surprises for both sides at the planning stages and beyond!”

  • Understand HMO planning policy

Mahsa also advises that you carefully review the Local Plan to make sure you have a sound understanding of the planning policy relevant to HMOs.

“For example, a common objection that we see is around potential noise, so demonstrating how your proposal complies with the Council’s Local Plan policies around amenities (noise mitigation, room layouts, etc.) is key - showing both the high standard of accommodation and consideration for neighbours. Although Licensing and Building Control are separate legislative frameworks to Planning, it is still worthwhile highlighting how these are met, as well as describing your professional management strategy.”

  • Take a measured approach

Of course, there will be some cases where you do all the right things and still face opposition.

And if this happens, Platinum’s Rachel Lewis - Head of Partnership Community, will support the network on the next steps.

“Neighbour objections will arise out of a genuine concern over practicalities, but things can get emotional very quickly.” says Rachel, “I advise Franchise Partners to take a step back, a measured approach and not take it personally. Instead, focus on the practical concerns behind the emotions and address each one constructively. This approach can take time, but if you stick with it, communication is kept clear, and issues can be easier to resolve.”

And the end goal is always to reach an amicable agreement.

“At Platinum we always think long-term and take a people-centric approach” says Mahsa “Aiming to build good relationships with the neighbours will not only create a more positive experience for you and them, but also for the housemates who become part of the community!”