If you’re planning to rent your property to tenants who will be sharing the same kitchen and bathroom, you need to know the key essentials of applying for Planning Permission for Houses in Multiple Occupation, known as HMOs. It’s equally crucial to be aware of the required legal procedures regarding HMOs in order to avoid any fines of up to £20,000.
The regulations for General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) were amended on 1 October 2010. The permitted development rights give permission for change of use between two use classes, from a C3 Dwelling House to a C4 HMO (House in Multiple Occupation), subject to certain limits and conditions.
If you’re passionate about HMOs and property investments, a beginner or an experienced HMO landlord, you’ll learn the fundamentals of HMO planning permission requirements and how to convert your house into a multi-let with certainty.
You generally don’t need planning permission when converting from a dwelling house or flat to an HMO property, namely a small shared house of up to six unrelated individuals.
However, the GDPO states that change of use made from a C3 Dwelling House to a C4 HMO will require planning permission if your council decides to remove these rights by enforcing an Article 4 Direction. This is happening more and more and you need to be aware of the risk of not complying.
Crucially: Article 4 Directions do not stop developments, but under these directions, you must pursue Planning Permission for HMOs. In short, if you intend to rent your family home to three or more unrelated individuals, and an Article 4 Direction is likely to be enforced, you should apply for planning permission for your HMO conversion.
So if you want to convert your property into an HMO, regardless of layout or location, contact us now and we can help you obtain the planning permission you need.
Permitted development is permission granted from the government only when the changes you wish to make comply with its regulations. Changes made to the order allow landlords to pursue changes between certain use classes without planning permission subject to conditions.
Class C4 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) (UCO) allows for the use of a dwelling house as an HMO by not more than 6 residents; that is up to 6 unrelated individuals who share basic amenities.
Essentially: Although the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (GPDO) grants planning permission under Class L for a change from Use Class C3 (use as a dwelling house for up to 6 people living as a single household) to Class C4, many local authorities are putting in force Directions under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) (TCPA) that removes the permitted development rights for change of use from C3 to C4.
Consequently, unless authorised through the passage of time, planning permission would now be needed for the change of use. In other words, this doesn’t allow flexibility for property owners to change the use between C3 and C4, and convert the property into an HMO.
So that means you need Planning Permission for HMO if there is an Article 4 Direction in place in your area!
Building Regulation approval is also required in respect of conversion and change of use works to provide new HMOs (House in Multiple Occupation).
For a change of use to be authorised through the passage of time, the appellant must show that the use has continued for at least 10 years prior to the date of the application. This is also known as Certificate of Lawfulness application for Existing Use.
HMOs are an important element of our housing stock and it is necessary to ensure there is sufficient capacity to meet increasing demands. It’s also equally important to ensure that the location and quality of HMOs are properly assessed to ensure that there is no adverse impact upon residents or surrounding properties.
Many councils have now confirmed an Article 4 Direction requirement for change of use from C3 Dwelling House to C4 HMOs in some locations. This means they have removed the previous permitted development rights for changes to be made without it. Therefore an HMO, regardless of the number of occupants, automatically requires planning permission.
It does not mean that permission will not be granted but it does ensure that the merits of each HMO are properly considered. It also allows the council to monitor the location of all new HMOs and assess the cumulative impact of such uses in a particular area. Supplementary planning guidance could then be created to help officers and members assess such applications
Whilst planning permission is required for those HMOs with more than 6 occupants, the vast majority of HMOs are not subject to the scrutiny of a planning application. This can lead to a proliferation of HMOs in certain areas which can in turn have a detrimental impact upon the amenity of existing residents.
An Article 4 Direction is a statement made by the Town and Country Planning Acts which allow local authorities to remove permitted development in some circumstances. An Article 4 must be accompanied by a plan that clearly shows the area that is subject to the Direction and the extent of the area needs to be based upon evidence.
Councils are aiming to manage HMOs better by improving residents standard of living and maintaining mixed communities. This is due to studies that show that a concentration of HMOs can be associated with the following issues:
Although HMOs can be an issue in London and the UK, we believe that they are an important source of low cost, private sector housing for students and for those seeking temporary accommodation.
We also believe that HMOs with good access to public transport and local facilities play a very important role in providing affordable accommodation.
The following London councils have removed permitted development rights so you will need Planning Permission if you want to convert your house into an HMO within those boroughs:
Again, this does not stop development, and some Article 4 Directions are not borough wide. The list is not exhaustive, so be sure to visit your council’s website before moving forward.
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Please contact your council or seek professional help before converting your property into an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation). If you become aware of any other areas where Article 4 notice is given for HMOs (House in Multiple Occupations), please let us know so that we can update this blog post.
London councils also introduce other planning control mechanisms in some of its conservation areas where the character of the area is under threat.
If your property is at least three storeys high, or you have five or more residents sharing a household, you may need to apply for mandatory licensing. There are some circumstances where your small HMO may need additional licensing. (See below for recent changes to licensing requirements.)
Update: As of 1 October 2018, the conditions for mandatory HMO licensing have changed. Specifically, the “three or more storeys” requirement has been stricken. As of 1 October, HMOs are subject to licensing requirements if:
If you rent your property without the necessary licence, you could be fined up to £20,000.
If you want to convert your property into an HMO and need planning permission or building regulations approval, contact us now. Regardless of your location or property layout, we can obtain planning permission for you.