Is the Cardiff House Share an Endangered Species?

The Cardiff house share is in great danger due to a number to changes to taxation and legislation to the Private Rented Sector (PRS) across the UK in 2016 with Wales leading the way with the roll out of Rent Smart Wales a national landlord and letting agent register which came into force on 23rd November 2016.

As well as the introduction of Rent Smart Wales the Welsh Assembly Government have also introduced further legislation around the creation of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or more commonly known as house shares. Prior to 25th February 2016 in Wales the C3 planning use classification applied to all dwelling houses up to and including six tenants but on the 25th February 2016 Wales introduced a C4 planning use classification of HMO: “tenanted living occupation by 3 to 6 people, who are not related and who share one or more basic amenities, as their only or main residence.”

Why is C4 HMO Use Class Such a Problem?

In England, it’s not.  It has long been accepted that permitted development rights ensured a property owner would automatically have planning permission granted by the General Development Order where an existing single family dwelling (C3) is used as a small HMO (within class C4) or vice versa.  However, all properties in Wales with 3 to 6 (unrelated) tenants now require a change of use application to be made, at the recently increased planning fee of £380 and there is NO GUARANTEE OF APPROVAL for your house share in Cardiff or else where is Wales.

Cardiff Council’s Approach to House of Multiple Occupation (HMO)

From a landlord and property investor perspective it looks as if Cardiff Council is going all out to stop the creation of additional house shares within the city.  Cardiff Council is to try to control the total concentration of house shares in each area by denying landlords in those areas planning permission to move between HMO classes if the concentration for that area has already been met, and the property falls within 50m radius of the designated area.  The threshold for the ward’s of Cathays and Plasnewyedd is 20 percent and in all other wards 10 percent.

Here is a link to Cardiff Council’s HMO Supplementary Planning Guidance:

So as can been seen from housing legislation that has been introduced by the UK Government , Welsh Assembly Government and Cardiff Council there is going to be a decrease in the overall number of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) being created in Cardiff even though the number of people looking to house share in Cardiff is ever increasing as they search for high quality affordable accommodation.

Sorry Housemates Cardiff Council have Shrunk the Bins

cardiff bins

Landlords and housemates be warned!   Your black general waste bin is getting smaller. This is happening right across Cardiff so if you own, manage or live in a Cardiff house share disposing of your general waste maybe about to get a lot more difficult.

General waste black bins are currently 240 litres buy are being replaced by a smaller 140 litre version.   This was brought to my attention last week when I put the bins out at a house share on North Road, Cardiff currently home to 5 house mates.

Five housemates produce a fair amount of general waste over a 2 week period and to be fair they all do their bit for recycling, utilising green bags and food waste brown bins, but now there has been a slight of hand and the bin has transformed from a just about adequate 240L to a worrying small 140 litre bin.

I have spoken to Cardiff Council about this as I am worried about other house shares across Cardiff with 6 or more people and was informed that letters have been sent out to all households and those with 6+ housemates should contact the council to stop their existing black wheelie bins being replaced.

So if you own or manage or live in a house share in Cardiff with six or more people make sure you contact them ASAP to ensure your bins don’t shrink!

Here is a link containing a contact number for Cardiff Council Waste & Recycling Team

House Sharing A Tenants Guide

House Sharing is becoming more popular across all demographics of the UK population, from fresh graduates who have just planted their foot on the first rung of the career ladder, under 35’s who are being forced to house share due to changes to housing benefits or more mature members of society who are no longer able to afford to live on their own.  Demand for house sharing is only going to increase as our islands population continues to grow and place an extra strain on our limited housing stock.

House Sharing main benefits are it is a great way to meet people if you are new to an area. House sharing offers a social life as well as place to live (we recommend multi let properties with a communal area) and financially it makes sense as bills are either included in the monthly rent (easier to budget each month) or split between all tenants.

Where to find a House Share

There a huge number of online mediums to find a house to share, sites include:

There are also sites geared toward specific geographic locations in the UK, such as:

As well as sites offering specific ethnic, gender and other preferences:

So whatever you’re chosen location there will be a site and house share to suit your specific needs.

House Sharing: Arranging a Viewing

It is very important to view the property before committing to enter into a house sharing agreement.  When viewing a property it is now law that you are shown a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).  An EPC contains information about a property’s energy use and energy costs and provides recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.  An EPC provides an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

Even if bills are included in the monthly rent and EPC will provide a snap shot at the overall condition of the property as often a more energy efficient house will have a modern boiler and double glazed windows which will be of benefit in the winter.

Other certificates to look out for are a Gas Safety certificate (renewed annually) and Electric Certificate (Valid for 10 years) and HMO License (mandatory if the property is 3 or more storey and houses 5 or more people) any House of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) you visit should have a notice board containing the landlords contact details, house rules and certificates on display.  This is a good indication the Landlord understands and takes their responsibility to tenants seriously.

 What is the ideal number of Housemate

When embarking on your house sharing journey it is important to meet your potential housemate and decide upon which house share best suits your needs. Although there is no absolute “best” number of housemate when house sharing it is good to avoid two or three together as two housemates can create an intensely inwardly-focused and dependent situation, and falling out or pairing off in other relationships often happens.

Three same sex housemates can lead to accusations of favouritism or ‘ganging up’ against one housemate.  House sharing with four, five and even six mixed-sex housemates often promotes an environment that is high on flexibility and offers non-intense rapport that helps avoid dangerous arguments and fallings-out.

Obviously when house sharing with five or six housemates amenities need to be taken into account and I would recommend looking for a house share with more than one shower room and a separate WC or a house share that offers ensuite facilities.

Questions to ask potential housemates

What time do you get up in the morning?

What time do you go to bed?

Do you smoke?

How often and how would you clean a toilet?

What is the price of a large sliced loaf/jar of coffee?

What experience have you had of working in a team?

 House Sharing Legals

You’ve found the perfect house share; you spoken with the landlord and housemates, now the fun begins.  As previously mentioned you should have already seen a copy of the EPC during your viewing as well as the Gas safety Certificate.  Other factors to consider are a bond.  If the landlord or agent offers an assured shorthold tenancy (AST) and requires a bond legally they are required to protect your bond within one of the following tenancy deposit protection (TDP) schemes:

Your bond must be protected in one of the above within 30 days of receiving the bond payment and  the landlord or agent must provide you with a Prescribed Information Certificate containing the Terms and Conditions of the chosen TDP scheme.

More information about TDP Scheme can be found on the Government site:

AST or License

If you are house sharing with a live in landlord chances are you will be provided in a License rather than an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) as a form of housing contract.  Please be aware a housing license offers less protection from eviction than an AST.

If your chosen house share doesn’t have a live in landlord and you do not have a main UK residence other than your new house share the landlord or agent has no option other than provide you with an AST whether it be a written or verbal contract.

The charity shelter provides a wealth of information relating to AST and Licenses her:

Rooms in Cardiff in a specialist provider of HMO and multi let services to landlords and property investors in Cardiff and throughout South Wales.

We are also a source of information for those interested in house sharing and a great place to come if you are looking for a housemate or Rooms to Rent in Cardiff  and across South Wales.