Planning permission for small houses in multiple occupation 

Article 4 directions in 5 areas of the city

Planning permission is not normally required to convert a family house into a shared house or house in multiple occupation (HMO) for up to 6 people. However in 5 wards of the city, the council introduced an 'Article 4 Direction' in April 2013 which removes permitted development rights.

This means that within the following 5 wards, planning permission is required to change the use of a single dwelling house (defined as C3) to a property lived in by between 3 and 6 people where facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom are shared (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 on 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.

Citywide extension to the Article 4 Direction for small HMOs

Local evidence demonstrated the need for an extension to the area covered by the existing Article 4 Direction and in June and July 2019 the council consulted on a citywide extension.

The responses have been analysed and on 16 January 2020, Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee agreed to confirm the Article 4 Direction.

It came into force on 3 June 2020, and consequently from this date applications for changes of use to small HMO will need planning permission citywide, with the exception of the part of the city that lies within the South Downs National Park.

Large HMOs - 7 or more people

If you wish to rent your property to 7 or more people in any area of the city, you must apply for planning permission and pay the relevant fee.

Map of existing HMOs

Our map shows properties that are currently recorded as being houses in multiple occupation.

Making a planning application

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:

If you have a concern about a HMO's planning authorisation, please look at our planning enforcement information.

Licensing houses in multiple occupation

As well as planning permission, HMOs also need to be licensed.