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HMO Planning Essential Top Ten

by | Aug 19, 2021 | Clients

Malkit Purewal from Savoys Properties has been in property for 20 years and specialising in HMOs for the past 10 years.  Malkit gives his top ten essentials surrounding planning and HMOs:

1). Are HMOs Permitted Development?

House in multiple occupation benefits from permitted development rights‏ which is the right to develop residential houses without planning permission.

Case law (Gravesham Borough Council v SoS and Michael W O’Brien 1982) has established that the distinctive characteristic of a “dwelling house” is its ability to afford to those who use it the facilities required for day-to-day private domestic existence. Whether a building is or is not a dwelling-house is a question of fact.

2). If my HMO goes over 6 occupiers

As soon as you go from 6 occupiers to 7 or more then you move from C4 to Sui Generis.  At this point you will require planning approval and amendment to the HMO Licence to accommodate the addition person(s).

3). Permitted Development HMOs v Sui Generis HMO’

Permitted Development allows a house to be developed to a maximum of 6 occupiers and 6 bedroom HMO.  Sui Generis HMO is one that does not fit into the definition of class of C4 use as it has more than 6 occupiers.  Once the property goes over 6 occupiers then planning permission will be required.

4). Article 4 Areas and HMOs

Councils can adopt an Article 4 Direction that removes Permitted Development rights to stop houses moving from C3 to C4.  Before starting work on converting a property to a HMO always check if the property falls in an Article 4 area.  If the property is an Article 4 area then Planning Permission will be required.

5). Is it an HMO or a Collection of Self Contained Flats?

We believe the clearest example whether the property is self-contained or a HMO comes from the “Standard Test” for HMOs from The Housing Act 2004:

  1. it consists of one or more units of living accommodation not consisting of a self-contained flat or flats;
  2. the living accommodation is occupied by persons who do not form a single household;
  3. the living accommodation is occupied by those persons as their only or main residence or they are to be treated as so occupying it;
  4. their occupation of the living accommodation constitutes the only use of that accommodation;
  5. rents are payable or other consideration is to be provided in respect of at least one of those persons’ occupation of the living accommodation; and
  6. two or more of the households who occupy the living accommodation share one or more basic amenities or the living accommodation is lacking in one or more basic amenities.

6). HMO’s and Parking

If the property is being converted under permitted development rights then there is no requirement to provide car parking.  However if required to apply for planning permission as the property is Sui Generis or in Article 4 then it’s likely that Car Parking will be required.  Car parking requirements would be listed in the Council’s Unitary Development Plan.

7). Licensing v Planning Permission

Planning and licensing are completely different things, but both equally important.

It is mandatory to apply for a HMO licences with 5 or more occupants.  Even if you’re exempt from a mandatory HMO license, remember to check whether additional or selective licensing still applies.

It is possible to be awarded a HMO Licence even in an Article 4 area or if the HMO is Sui Generis.  Getting a Licence does not make you immune from Planning Enforcement.

8). HMOs with Established Use

If you have an HMO in an Article 4 area or is HMO that Sui Generis then you are immune from enforcement action after ten years.  This is known as established use.

9). Building Control

Building Control operate separately from the Planning Department.  Technically you need Building Control if your works will be providing services and/or fittings in a building such as washing and sanitary facilities, hot water cylinders, foul water and rainwater drainage, replacement windows, and fuel burning appliances of any type.

10). Clark v Manchester City Council [2015] UKUT 129 (LC)

This case established that Councils can give landlords guidance over living standards considered reasonable for local houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) but cannot enforce them if they differ from the minimum set by law, according to the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber).

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