When a landlord appealed against his prosecution for breaking a planning enforcement notice with regard to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) he owns, he used a rather novel argument to justify exceeding the limitation on the number of residents of the property. He argued that children under the age of 18 should not be counted.
The property was occupied by six adults and four children. The landlord claimed that its use was lawful because the Class C4 exemption from planning permission for properties with six or fewer residents applied.
As the landlord did not have planning permission to use the property as an HMO, the planning authority ordered him to cease using it as such. When he continued to do so, he was prosecuted.
His appeal was, unsurprisingly, unsuccessful. The High Court upheld his conviction, ruling that children under age 18 are included in the meaning of the term 'residents' in such cases.
The criminal conviction means that the proceeds of the illegal activity are subject to confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
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