HMO’s and planning permission, do you know what you need?

Are you thinking of renting your family home out to three or more unrelated people? Will they be sharing amenities, like the same kitchen and bathroom? Then there is going to be some changes in the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) law that you need to be aware of.

Before you get too far into those changes though, you need to determine if you need planning permission or not. Your family home is classed as C3 and an HMO (a property occupied by between three and six unrelated people. Think young professionals or students), is a class C4. If you’re in an area where there is permitted change of use then you don’t need planning permission.

But, if your local Council is enforcing an Article 4 Direction for a change of use, you will need to make an HMO planning permission application. The idea behind the Article 4 Direction is to control the number of HMOs in certain areas, as they could have a negative impact on existing local residents.

Regardless of whether you need planning permission, you will more than likely need an HMO license. From October 1st changes are being made to which properties require mandatory licensing. The current law states a property must have a mandatory licence if: ● the property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (occupied by individuals who are not all related to one another); and ● the property is occupied by five or more people ● the property has three storeys or more So what are the changes that will come into force on October 1st? The main change is the removal of the three-storey element. This means any HMO occupied by at least three, and up to to six, unrelated people will require a licence. The next major change is the introduction of minimum room sizes.

The size requirements relate to those rooms that are used for sleeping. These conditions will be listed on the new licence. The size requirements are:

● to ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51 square metres; ● to ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22 square metres; ● to ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64 square metres; ● to ensure that any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not used as sleeping accommodation. As well as the minimum size requirements, the following conditions will also be included, which the licence holder must ensure: ● where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged over 10 years only, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged over 10 years specified in the licence; ● where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged under 10 years only, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged under 10 years specified in the licence; ● where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged over 10 years and persons aged under 10 years, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged over 10 years specified in the licence and the maximum number of persons aged under 10 years so specified.

What do these changes mean for the Landlord looking to let their property as an HMO?

Well, to begin with, the sleeping rooms in your property must comply with the above conditions. It’s important to remember when calculating the floor area of your rooms, any part of the room which has a ceiling height lower than 1.5 metres cannot be taken into account.

The final change will be a requirement for Part 2 of the licence to include a condition that the licence holder must comply with any scheme that is provided by the local housing authority to the licence holder that relates to the storage and disposal of household waste at the HMO. If you’re looking to let your property to more than six people, there is no defined Use Class. In this case, the property is called a “Sui Generis”. You will more than likely need planning permission for and the new rules coming into force have no impact on this.

The area of planning permission, change of use and Use Classes is one where it’s definitely worth getting professional advice. Each case has its own intricacies and if you fall foul of the planning laws, you could get a hefty fine.

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