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Quick Guide - Planning Permission for HMOs

Do you have a property you are considering converting into a shared house, for students or professionals?

Or do you have a property you own or are managing and want to see whether it needs planning permission?

In planning, a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a residential property shared by 3 or more unrelated people, and various rules and restrictions can apply. This can become particularly confusing as the rules of licensing are different to the rules for planning. We hope that this Quick Guide will help give you some clarity on the planning requirements for HMOs.

1. What type of HMO is my property?

For planning, if your HMO has 3-6 tenants, it is known as a 'small' HMO, or Use Class C4.

If your HMO has over 6 tenants, it is known as a 'large' HMO, and is in a 'Sui Genesis' Use Class (i.e. - a class of its own).

2. What type of planning permission do I need?

This usually depends where your HMO is located. In most areas, you can change from a normal house (which would fall in Use Class C3) to a small HMO through a Certificate of Lawfulness application, but would need full planning permission to change into a large HMO.

However, some exceptions apply. For example, many councils are introducing Article 4 Directions, which prohibit the change of use from a house to a small HMO without full planning permission. Based on experience, these are usually in areas close to a University.

In Article 4 areas, it is especially important to check you have the relevant planning permissions in place to avoid potential enforcement action.

Some councils with Article 4 Directions in place include:

  • Birmingham City Council

  • Cheltenham Borough Council

  • Coventry City Council

  • Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

  • Manchester City Council

  • Newcastle City Council

  • Nottingham City Council

  • Oxford City Council

  • Plymouth City Council

  • Warwick District Council

  • Worcester City Council

3. What if I don't have/get planning permission?

If you don't have planning permission for your HMO, and need it to be lawful from a planning perspective, the Council may issue an Enforcement Notice, which could result in you needed to cease the use of the HMO. Viable Placemaking have a page dedicated to enforcement which you're welcome to peruse via the link here.

Tackling an Enforcement Appeal tends to be more stressful and complicated than a planning application. Therefore, we usually recommend that, where possible, this is dealt with through the planning process (usually through the submission of a planning application).

4. How can Viable Placemaking help?

Viable Placemaking have a plethora of experience managing the planning requirements of HMOs, both in and out of Article 4 areas.

We may assist in conducting an initial HMO Review to establish what type of planning permission you need and the best strategy to successfully obtain it. We can then assist with the preparation and management of your application through to receiving your decision.

If you have a property you are considering converting to a HMO, or have a current HMO you would like to review the planning lawfulness of, feel free to get in touch and a member of our team will be happy to help.


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