It is a misconception when developers and builders assume that if Article 4 does not exist in an area it automatically gives rights to develop HMO’s. There are to bearing factors here. One is the change of class use of the dwelling:
Planning Use Classes
Use Class C3 (Dwelling Houses) – These generally include self contained houses or flats occupied by a single person, a couple or a family.
Use Class C4 (Small HMOs) – These include self contained houses and flats shared by between 3 and 6 unrelated people.
Under PD rights it means that if you are working within the existing footprint of the property then essentially you are changing the internal layout only and thus the class use from C3 to C4 is permitted. It does not mean you can automatically extend the building and create an extension to the existing floor plan. Furthermore, PD is normally based on rear extensions, (from the original wall), therefore side extensions may contravene shadowing and 45 degrees angles to neighbours’ properties, and therefore are viewed slightly different to automatic rear extensions under PD rights for 3 metres, for example. Planning advise from one of our expert HMO would be advisable if you need further clarification.
The other bearing factor is councils will have restrictions of where specifically HMO’s have permitted development (PD) rights, and where they cannot even though Article 4 isn’t enforced in a particular area. For example, in Coventry PD is allowed for HMO’s however certain streets do not have automatic PD rights, and this can lead to expensive conversions and retrospective problems for Landlords. It is advisable the correct advice is sought before any HMO conversion, even if PD rights exist, it does not mean all streets and houses automatically benefit from PD Rights. Our team consists of planning and HMO specialist advisors who can help you in this area.
WHAT ABOUT HMOS OVER 6 BED’S?
Bedsits and larger shared houses and flats, those occupied by more than 6 unrelated people, do not fall within a Planning Use Class. Any HMO with seven or more bedrooms falls under a special planning use class termed Sui Generis and for these planning permission is always required irrespective of local council policies. You would need to provide a full document pack, including Highways reports, affidavits, block plans, as well as many others to support your application. We can assist you with an application to solidify the class use of the property and produce a satisfactory "bundle pack" and lodge a successful application.