Imagine you were working in London during the week but somewhere else at the weekend. And most weeknights you were eating out with friends or colleagues. Would renting a whole flat seem worthwhile? A hotel would be too expensive, but you’re sure you don’t want to be sharing a bathroom with strangers.
Our client felt there are people out there who meet this description and who are underserved by what’s on the market at the moment. His building was operating a conventional house in multiple occupation (HMO), which is classed as C4 for planning purposes. He wanted it to design luxury serviced apartments and change the use to C1 which includes hotels but also boarding houses. Rather than being left to fend for themselves, his guests would be able to ask for food to be provided. And, of course, they would each have their bathroom.
Although our client’s concept involved a change of use from C4 (house in multiple occupation) to C1 luxury serviced apartments, we think there are good lessons to be learned here for HMO landlords. The COVID-19 crisis showed how important it is – if at all possible – for every individual, couple or small family to have their own bathroom for health reasons.
We’ve gone from a cheery view of young people living together celebrated in TV comedies down the years to an awareness of the drawbacks. The HMO of the future should make sure each bedroom not only comes with an ensuite but also enough space for a desk and for the resident to relax on their own if they want – or need, as has sadly was the case in 2020/1 – to spend time away from their housemates.
So whether you are aiming for high-end luxury apartments like our client here or simply want to make sure your HMO is a good place to live, we think this is a good example to follow. Careful thought about what should go where meant we could balance the number of rooms our client needed with making sure each of them was comfortable and spacious. We think it’s important to be able to live in dignity and safety whether you have a building of your own or not. And we think the landlords who keep that in mind are the ones who will thrive in the long run.
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