HMO Planning: Planning Permission and Article 4 – What are they and do I need them?
The first thing to note is that planning permission and licensing are two completely different things. You might need one but not the other and you might not need either or need both!! There are two circumstances where you will need planning permission for an HMO.
The first and the most common is when a landlord wants to go above having six bedrooms in the HMO. As soon as there more than six lettable rooms in a property which are to be occupied then planning permission is required i.e. seven rooms and over. However, this is where It can get confusing as it is possible to have a license granted for 10 people but not require planning permission as there is only six bedrooms and couples sharing.
Licensing dictates the number of people who can occupy the property, whereas planning is the number of habitable bedrooms allowed. You could need planning permission and not a license if you have seven rooms on two floors!
As soon as you want to go over seven bedrooms then you will have to apply for planning permission to be allowed to do this. This is a full planning application along with planning fees and so is not cheap. It can also be turned down if the planners feel there are too many rooms in a certain area. If this was the case, you can appeal the planning decision.
The second instance when you will need planning permission is when you would like to operate an HMO in what Is known as an Article 4 area. Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1995 is a restriction on permitted development rights in an area and in essence means there is compulsory planning required on ALL HMOs. In order to operate any form of HMO you will be required to apply for and be grated planning permission. Article 4 was introduced to stop the rapid spread of HMOs and has mainly stemmed from university towns and cities to try and put a cap on the number of shared houses to ensure the local area isn’t overrun by HMOs. In Article 4 areas this applies to EVERY property, licensable or not. So if you wanted to turn a normal three bedroom two story house into a four way HMO in an Article 4 area you would have to apply for planning permission but you would not need a license.
If Article 4 is in place, then some councils will not entertain the idea of granting planning permission at all. However, in other areas if the density of the licensed HMOs in the local vicinity (e.g. within 100m) of your prospective property is not very high then they might well grant you planning for an HMO. This is only subject to the property meeting requirements such as car parking, bike storage and bin storage criteria (you will need to ask your local authority for a list of criteria) and then make your planning application. There is no guarantee but the council will often tell you the likelihood of an application being approved if you were to apply for a specific property. This process can take anywhere from 6-8 weeks to go through.
The most common Article 4 areas are most boroughs of London, Birmingham, Oxford, Worcester, Milton Keynes, York, Leeds, Manchester, Cardiff etc. The way around this is to buy an existing HMO with planning permission already granted but you will pay a premium for this.
If you are unsure whether your area has Article 4 or not, then ring up the local council and check.
If you are not sure you need planning or not why not give Relo a ring and we can help clarify whether you might or might not require planning permission.