Guidance published on new planning rules for Houses in Multiple Occupation

City Plan Part 2 has introduced new policies to better manage concentrations of Houses in Multiple Occupation in the city. New guidance is now available on our planning web pages for those applying for planning permission or concerned about an application in their neighbourhood.

Meeting the city’s housing needs

A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a house that contains 3 or more unrelated occupants who share basic amenities such as a bathroom and kitchen. Examples include bedsits, shared houses, lodgings and accommodation for workers or employees.

HMOs represent a significant and growing proportion of the mix of housing in the city. There are around 4,000 licensed HMOs in the Brighton & Hove. They make an important contribution to the housing offer, providing flexible and affordable accommodation for students and residents.

Avoiding high concentrations of HMOs

However, high concentrations of HMOs can have negative impacts on local communities. For example, more frequent noise nuisance, depopulation of neighbourhoods during academic vacations and increased pressure on parking.

The purpose of the policies in the City Plan is to continue to provide HMO accommodation to contribute to meeting the city’s housing needs, but to manage the supply of new HMOs to avoid high concentrations in a particular area.

New assessment criteria

The new policy introduces additional assessment criteria for new applications, looking at the impact on both the immediate vicinity and on the wider neighbourhood.

Under the new policy planning applications will only be considered where all the following criteria are met:

  • Fewer than 20% of dwellings in the wider neighbourhood area are already in use as HMOs
  • The proposal does not lead to three or more HMOs immediately adjacent to each other
  • The proposal does not result in a non-HMO house being sandwiched between two HMOs where the three houses are immediately adjacent to each other.

Standards will also apply to the communal living and private outdoor spaces provided.

The new guidance details the rules relating to both new-build HMO planning applications and changes of use to or from a single-family home to an HMO.

Online map

A new map is now available help residents and applicants understand HMO concentrations in an application area. Planning applications will be assessed at a wider neighbourhood level to ensure that existing HMOs do not exceed 20% of all properties.

The guidance also covers buying or selling an HMO.

Better management

Councillor David Gibson, co-chair of the Housing Committee, said: “City Plan Part 2 sets out better management of the supply of Houses in Multiple Occupation.

“I am pleased to say that City Plan Part 1 and its restrictions on HMOs have had a very noticeable impact, and this will be strengthened by the newly introduced policies in City Plan Part 2.”

The new guidance can be found in the planning section of our website.

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