In the UK, House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlords and those considering a HMO conversion must navigate planning regulations to ensure that they comply with the law and provide safe and decent accommodation for tenants. One important regulation to understand is Article 4 Direction, which restricts the conversion of family homes into HMOs without planning permission.
This article explores the key considerations for HMO landlords and investors, including the difference between permitted development and planning permission, the importance of understanding Class C3 and Class C4, and tips for buying a HMO in an Article 4 area. By understanding and complying with planning regulations, HMO landlords and investors can be successful in the long term and provide high-quality accommodation for tenants.
Article 4 vs HMO Licencing
HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) additional licensing and Article 4 Direction are two separate measures related to regulating certain types of residential properties in the UK.
HMO additional licensing is a scheme implemented by local authorities to regulate HMOs that are not covered by mandatory HMO licensing, typically HMOs with three or four tenants. The scheme requires landlords to apply for a licence for each HMO, which is subject to specific standards and conditions set by the local authority. The aim of the additional licensing scheme is to ensure that HMOs with three or four tenants are managed to a high standard, like what is required for mandatory licencing, and provide safe and decent accommodation for tenants. Read more about HMO licence requirements.
Article 4 Direction, on the other hand, is a planning measure that allows local authorities to remove permitted development rights for certain types of development in a particular area. This means that planning permission is required for certain types of development that would otherwise be allowed without planning permission. Article 4 Directions are often used by local authorities to control the concentration of HMOs in certain areas.
In some cases, local authorities may use both measures to regulate HMOs in their area. For example, they may introduce an Article 4 Direction to restrict the conversion of family homes into HMOs, and then implement an additional licensing scheme to regulate the three or four bed HMOs that are already in existence. By doing so, they can better manage the impact of HMOs on local communities and ensure that they are providing safe and decent accommodation for tenants.
Article 4: Key Considerations for HMO Landlords and Investors
Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 is a piece of legislation that affects HMO landlords and investors. Quite simply, Article 4 restricts the conversion from a family house to a house in multiple occupation (HMO) without planning permission. The purpose of this legislation is to prevent the conversion of family homes into HMOs and improve standards for all HMO tenants.
To understand Article 4 Direction, it is important to have a good understanding of Permitted Development, Planning Permission, and the differences between Class C3 and Class C4 use of a property.
Permitted Development is a legal framework that permits certain types of development without requiring the submission of a planning application. This includes minor alterations to a building, small-scale extensions, and changes of use within certain limits. The aim of the framework is to reduce red tape and make the planning process more straightforward for homeowners and developers.
However, Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 can remove permitted development rights in a particular area, such as where there are concerns about the concentration of HMOs. This means that certain types of development that would otherwise be allowed without planning permission may require planning permission in an area with an Article 4 Direction. In the case of HMOs, Article 4 may be used to restrict the conversion of family homes into HMOs without planning permission.
Therefore, HMO landlords who wish to convert a property into an HMO in an area with an Article 4 Direction would need to apply for planning permission first. It is important to note that each local authority has its own specific Article 4 Direction, which may have different restrictions and requirements, so it is essential to check with the local authority before carrying out any development work.
Planning permission is a legal requirement that is necessary for certain types of development or changes of use to a property. The process of obtaining planning permission involves submitting a planning application to the local planning authority, which will assess the application against the relevant planning policies and make a decision based on the potential impact of the development on the local area.
As discussed, in the case of HMOs, Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 can remove the permitted development rights for HMO conversions in certain areas. This means that landlords who wish to convert a property into an HMO in an Article 4 area must apply for planning permission first.
When assessing a planning application for an HMO conversion, the local planning authority will consider a range of factors, such as the impact of the development on the character and amenity of the local area, as well as the health and safety of the tenants. They will also take into account any representations made by local residents or community groups.
If planning permission is granted, the HMO landlord must comply with all relevant regulations, such as building and fire safety standards, before the HMO can be occupied. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in enforcement action, such as fines or prosecution. Read more about HMO planning permission.
Understanding Class C3 and Class C4
Class C3 refers to a dwelling house, which can be occupied by a single person or a family. This includes houses, flats, and apartments that are used as a primary residence.
Class C4 refers to a house in multiple occupation (HMO), which is a property where three or more unrelated individuals share common facilities, such as a kitchen or bathroom. A HMO can include bedsits, shared houses, and some flats, and they are subject to specific regulations relating to health and safety, management, and amenity standards.
When local authorities use Article 4 Direction to restrict the conversion of a Class C3 property to a Class C4 property, this means that landlords who wish to convert a property into an HMO would need to apply for planning permission first.
Tips To Buying A HMO In an Article 4 Area
If you are looking to invest in a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) property in an area where Article 4 has been introduced, there are some important considerations to keep in mind to ensure that you make a smart and profitable investment. Here are some tips to help you buy a HMO in an Article 4 area:
- Familiarise yourself with Article 4: Before investing in an HMO property in an Article 4 area, it is crucial to understand what Article 4 is and how it affects HMOs. Familiarise yourself with the restrictions and regulations set out in Article 4 and make sure that you comply with all relevant regulations and planning policies.
- Do a Pre-planning Application: Before making an offer on a property, you may be able to determine if planning permission will be granted. A pre-planning application can help you understand the local authority’s requirements and assess the chances of obtaining planning permission.
- Make an Offer and Apply for Planning at the Same Time: Although the property vendor may not allow this, in some circumstances you can make an offer on a property and apply for planning permission at the same time. If permission is granted, you can continue with the purchase, if it is not, you can pull out of the process.
- Speak to a Local Planning Consultant: A local planning consultant can help you navigate the planning process and provide guidance on the best approach to take. They can also help you understand the possibility of getting your planning application accepted.
- Buy an Existing HMO with Planning Permission Already Granted: If possible, consider buying an existing HMO property that already has planning permission.
- Check HMO Density: When considering purchasing a property to transform into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in an area with an Article 4 direction, it’s crucial to evaluate the Density Threshold of HMOs in the area. Certain local authorities enforce HMO density limits, which restrict the quantity of HMOs in a designated area. Getting to know this information will give you a better understanding of the likelihood of your planning application being approved.
- Demonstrate that your HMO will be well managed: If a high number of HMOs are causing issues for the public and are mismanaged, local authorities may introduce Article 4. To increase the chances of your planning permission being approved, it’s crucial to show the local authority that your HMO will not create problems and will be effectively managed. Additionally, demonstrate that there is a demand for HMOs in your area and that your HMO will benefit, not harm, the local community.
By keeping these tips in mind, you can increase your chances of successfully buying an HMO in an area where Article 4 has been introduced.
HMO landlords and investors must have a good understanding of Article 4 Direction as it restricts the conversion of family homes into HMOs without planning permission. Local authorities may use both additional licensing and Article 4 measures to regulate HMOs in their area and ensure that they provide safe and decent accommodation for tenants. HMO landlords must regularly check their local council’s website to see if Article 4 is going to be introduced or has already been introduced, and be willing to jump through hoops with the council to get planning permission – even if they have already had to jump through hoops to get a HMO licence. This is something HMO landlords need to do in order to be successful in the long term.
If you’re looking for a professional HMO Letting Agent to manage or let your HMO property in South London, or if you require expert HMO advice and consultation, contact us today.