HMO’s

Issue:   What changes are being implemented to current planning laws in respect of HMOs and who will it affect.

What changes are being implemented?<>
•    New changes coming into effect on 6 April 2010.

•    A new use class (C4) is being created for HMOs specifically by an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

•    The proposed changes will replicate the definition in s254 of the Housing Act 2004.

•    Properties to be rented to three or more sharers after that date will require planning consent, where a material change of use has occurred, for properties changing use from C3 (dwelling house) to the new use class.

•    C3 Dwellinghouses – Family houses, or houses occupied by up to six residents living together as a single household, including a household where care is provided for residents. Currently a mandatory HMO license is required for Landlords letting the largest HMOs, those on three or more storeys with five or more people in two or more households living in them. Some councils may choose to license landlords with smaller HMOs as well. These licences are usually granted for a period of 5 years.

•    A change back to use as a dwellinghouse will be permitted development, not requiring planning permission, but after these changes in planning law, once an HMO has become a dwellinghouse it cannot revert back to an HMO without planning permission if to do so would amount to a material change in use.

•    Movement between the new HMO Use Class C4 back to the C3 class (dwelling house) will not require planning permission.

•    The amendment does not alter the provisions for licensing under the Housing Act 2004 – HMOs which are three storeys or more, house 5 or more people who form two or more separate households and who share bathrooms, toilets or cooking facilities require a mandatory licence.

•    It is unlikely to be applied retrospectively.

Issues:•   In practice, the local planning authority may have no means of knowing that the numbers have changed and, in most types of situation, little interest in alleging any breach of planning control.

•    It is unlikely to be applied retrospectively and the current information indicates that an existing HMO which is licensed shall automatically be labelled as “established use” and so no planning permission will be needed.

•    Therefore, if there are currently more than 3 sharers in the HMO there should not be a need to make an application.

•    If there are less than 3 sharers and then another sharer is introduced, planning permission will need to be obtained.

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