Small Houses in Multiple Occupation

Small houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are properties lived in by between three and six people where facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom are shared. These properties provide an important and affordable type of accommodation for many residents, including students.

Small HMOs are defined as a C4 use class in the Use Classes Order

Planning permission for small HMOs - Article 4 Directions in five areas of the city

Planning permission is not normally required to convert a family house into a shared house or HMO for up to 6 people.

However, in five wards of the city, the council have introduced an 'Article 4 Direction'  (as of 5 April 2013) which removes permitted development rights.

This means that within the following five wards planning permission is required to change the use of a single dwelling house (defined as C3) to a small housing in multiple occupation (C4 use class). 

The Article 4 Direction addresses the impact of concentrations of HMOs such as increased noise and refuse, the proliferation of “To Let” boards, untidy gardens, additional parking demands and changes to local shopping areas.

There is no need to apply for planning permission for properties that were already in Class C4 use within the Article 4 Direction Area before the direction came into effect (5 April 2013). You should seek to secure your own evidence, such as copies of tenancy agreements, to show that the property was in Class C4 use on or before 5 April 2013. You could also apply to the city council for a Certificate of Lawful Use. There would be a fee for this certificate. If you are in any doubt you should seek independent advice.

Large HMOs (for seven or more people)

If you wish to rent your property to seven or more people in any area of the city, you must pay a fee to apply for planning permission

The rules relating to large HMOs (properties where seven or more unrelated individuals are sharing amenities) have not changed. Where there is a material change to this type of use, planning permission will be required.

Making a planning application

There is no fee for making a planning application required due to an Article 4 Direction.

For a change of use application we would expect a site plan and floor plans

Determining planning applications 

Planning applications for changes of use to an HMO will be determined with consideration of the following information:

Maps of HMOs

These maps are indicative areas of high concentration of HMO properties on a street by street basis; they do not however provide definitive up to date information in relation to specific properties.

Maps of HMO properties on a street by street basis (as at 2010):

Permitted Development Rights for Small HMOs

In January 2014, the Planning Inspectorate issued advice to its Inspectors that HMOs, both C4 and Sui Generis, that are considered to have the character of a dwelling house, can benefit from householder permitted development rights. These rights apply to extensions / alterations which comply with the relevant restrictions set out in the General Permitted Development Order (2015) (as amended), provided that the works are not part and parcel of a wider development which includes a material change of use of the property which requires planning permission.

It is the view of the council, that a change from 6 occupants (Use Class C4) to 7 or more occupants (Sui Generis), and any increase in occupancy from 7 or more occupants, represents a material change of use which requires planning permission. Therefore, works which are associated with / have the intention of facilitating such a change of use will require planning permission. Such works do not in the view of the Council represent permitted development.

Where to find out more

The following documents are available to give you more information about the Article 4 direction.