Homes in Multiple Occupation.
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Planning permission may be needed to authorise the use of a residential property. Planning permission is required for building operations, e.g. building a new house, but it can also be required if there is a change of use from one particular type of residential accommodation to another. Residential use is not a single broad classification. Rather, residential use is broken down into different types. In this guide we outline the different kinds of residential use. Slightly different rules apply in England and Wales.
The different types of residential use
For planning purposes residential use in England and Wales can be categorised into the following types -
Single houses are those occupied by a single person or by a family (there is no limit on the size of a family for these purposes). This will be a house, whether semi detached or detached, terraced or a bungalow. This use falls within Class C3.
A flat is a self contained flat and it includes flats or maisonettes on more than one floor. These are flats which are again occupied by a single person or a family (again irrespective of the size of the family). Flats and houses are treated differently for planning purposes. However, a flat which is occupied by a single person or family also falls within Class C3. Each flat in a block is treated as a separate unit for planning purposes.
Small house in multiple occupation (HMO)
A small house in multiple occupation (HMO) is a house lived in by between three and six unrelated individuals who share at least one basic amenity, i.e. kitchen, bathroom or toilet. There must be more than one household although an individual can be a single household for these purposes. The type of accommodation which falls within this category is a house occupied by a group of young professionals or students, or a small bedsit house. The definition of a small HMO is more complex than this but this gives a broad indication of what falls within this category. It is classified as Use Class C4.
Flat in multiple occupation (HMO)
This is a self contained flat which is occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals who, again, share one or more basic amenity and where there is more than one household. It also falls within Use Class C4.
Large houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
An HMO which has more than six residents will usually be treated as a use on its own (what in planning terms is called a sui generis use). It includes properties such as larger shared houses with more than six occupiers or larger houses comprising bedsitting accommodation, i.e. non self-contained units where there are more than six residents.
When is planning permission required if there is a change of use?
Even though the broad classification of use is residential, planning permission is required if a material change of use takes place. This can occur where use changes from one type of use as set out in the previous sections to another, e.g. where a single house is converted to flats or bedsit (non self contained) accommodation. The test is one of whether the change of use is material or not. This depends on all the circumstances including the resulting impact on the amenities of the adjoining area. For example, it is more likely that there will be a material change of use if there is a significant increase in noise, parking, comings and goings etc, as a result. Professional advice may well be needed on this topic because each case can turn on its own particular circumstances. For example, a house occupied by a family of four, say mother, father and two adult children, may instead be lived in by four unrelated young people. This may not be a material change of use particularly if there is no resulting impact on the neighbourhood, e.g. no increase in car usage and the group of four young people are closely linked with each other. Again, it all depends on the circumstances. Planning permission is automatically required where a building is sub-divided into more than one self contained unit. Likewise, if a large flat were to be sub-divided into two separate flats then, again, planning permission must be obtained. Sub-divisions of this kind are automatically treated as a material change of use.
Small HMOs in England
In England, unless an Article 4 Direction is in force a change of use from Use Class C4 (a small HMO) to a single house with up to six residents (Use Class C3) is covered by permitted development rights. Where permitted development rights apply there is no need to apply for express planning permission to authorise the change of use although if any external building works are involved planning permission is needed for these. Likewise, if a flat which is treated as a single flat for planning purposes is changed over to a small flat in multiple occupation with up to six residents (Use Class C4) permitted development rights authorise this, unless an Article 4 Direction is in force. The reverse also applies where use changes in the case of a house or flat which is a small HMO to use as a single house or flat within Use Class C3. Local authorities can make Article 4 Directions taking permitted developments away in which case express planning permission has to be applied for. A number of towns and cities in England have made Article 4 Directions removing these rights either in the whole of their areas or in part of their areas so you need to check with your local planning authority.
Small HMOS in Wales
Permitted development rights are not in place for Wales at this time if the change in use is from C3 to C4. As such landlords will potentially need planning consent if they plan to change the property classification to an HMO. They should also pay the fees of £380 when changing use from C3 to C4.
Changing from C4 to C3 is covered by permitted development however and so landlords do not need to apply for permission to change the use, or pay a fee for this change. Landlords should consider this carefully before they do however as there is no guarantee they will be able to change it back to an HMO afterwards.
The C4 classification was only implemented in Wales from January 2016. Prior to that all properties with less than 7 occupiers were classed as C3. Any property currently in use as an HMO can continue to be used that way. However, if a property that has been used as an HMO is then used as a family home it may be difficult to use it as an HMO again. Going forward any further conversion of property to an HMO use is likely to be difficult.
Due to the recent nature of C4 classification in Wales, landlords should check for evidence of historic use before purchasing a property. As long as this exists it will be possible to continue HMO use. However, there should be no expectation that further family homes can be moved to HMO use and anyone considering doing so should look to obtain an outline planning permission or a Certificate of Lawful Planned Use or Development before investing substantial funds. The long-term effect is likely to be a reduction in HMO property in Wales and a limit on more properties being used in this way.
Where there is a limit of six occupiers is this the maximum?
Six is not necessarily the maximum number. This is because ultimately it turns on whether or not there is a material change of use. Increasing the number of occupants from six to seven or eight may not constitute a material change of use. If it goes to nine occupants then it almost certainly would be treated as a material change of use but this could be the case even with seven or eight occupiers. It all depends on the circumstances and especially the resulting impact on the amenities of the neighbourhood.
What are Use Classes?
In this guidance we have explained that single dwellings/flats fall within Use Class C3 in England and Wales. Small HMOs (including bedsits) are within Use Class C4. Any change of use within a Use Class does not need planning permission. For example, if use of a single dwelling/flat changes so that it is occupied by a family instead of a single person, then no planning permission is needed. Likewise, changes in numbers of occupants between three and six in Use Class C4 will not attract the need for planning permission in the case of a small HMO. Often, a change of use from one Use Class to another will require planning permission but not always. As explained above, this is only required if there is a material change of use, although this will usually be the case if you change from one Use Class to another. Alternatively, it may be covered by permitted development rights so that express planning permission is not required, as pointed out already in earlier sections in relation to England, unless an Article 4 Direction is in force.
Two unrelated occupiers
In England there is a quirk deliberately incorporated into the legislation, where a property is occupied by two unrelated individuals, e.g. two friends. This is not an HMO; nor does it fall within Use Class C3. In reality, this is not an issue because using a property in this way would not be regarded as a material change of use anyway, especially where a single dwelling/flat is occupied by two unrelated individuals. This is an area of planning law which has been little explored since the changes which took place in England in 2010. In Wales it would fall within Use Class C3 anyway so long as the two unrelated individuals are viewed as a single household.
Case Study of a successful HMO Planning Application: 12A Britannia Street, Coventry.fgfgmm: 12A
The application site relates to an end terraced property located on the northern side of Britannia Street at the junction with King Richard Street. The area is predominantly residential, characterised by two-storey period terraces. The application property, whilst originally a dwellinghouse, has a lawful use as a taxi office (sui generis) and has a small shopfront formed in the southern elevation fronting Britannia Street and fascia
Planning permission was sought for a change of use of the taxi office to a house in multiple occupation. The property can accommodate five en-suite bedrooms and a communal kitchen, living room and WC at ground floor. There is a basement area for storage.
Part of the rear garden, accessed from Britannia Street, provides access to two off-street vehicle spaces and there is a side gate into the remaining rear garden.Policy H11 'Homes in Multiple Occupation (HiMO's)' states that the development of purpose built HiMO's or the conversion of existing homes or non-residential properties to large HiMO's will not be permitted in areas where the proposals would materially harm:
a) the amenities of occupiers of nearby properties (including the provision of suitable parking
b) the appearance or character of an area;
c) local services; and
d) The amenity value and living standards of future occupants of the property, having specific
regard to internal space and garden/amenity space.
The scheme was not considered to contravene Policy H11 b), c), or d). due to amended planms to place the kitchen at ground floor level, which has reduced the number of proposed bedrooms in the property from six to five. The loft bedroom is only served by rooflights; however the room has a dual aspect and four rooflights to provide an appropriate level of natural light and ventilation.
In terms of Policy H11 a); the site relates to a narrow-fronted end-terrace dwellinghouse within a high-density street of other terrace dwellinghouses. It is recognised that there are existing on-street parking pressures and proposals that intensify the use and car parking demand to the detriment of neighbours would not be supported.
In this case the property does benefit from two off-street parking spaces, served by an existing dropped kerb. The proposed five-bedroom HMO generates the requirement for four off-street parking spaces (0.75 spaces per bedroom - Appendix 5) and there is a shortfall in parking. Nevertheless, significant weight is given to the existing lawful use of the property, which has potential to create greater disturbance, comings & goings and parking pressure than the proposed residential use.
On balance the scheme was considered by Coventry City Council to be acceptable; however, given the parking shortfalls it is considered reasonable and necessary to restrict the occupancy to a maximum of five persons.The removal of the shop front and the reinstatement of domestic windows was considered to be a positive enhancement as it better respects the style and character of the period property and wider streetscene.
Coventry City Council imposed a condition to secure a bin store within the rear garden to ensure that bins are not left visible within the highway. The scheme is considered to accord with Policy DE1 and H11(b).Policy H5 requires new development to be designed and positioned so it does not adversely affect the amenities of the occupiers of neighbouring properties.
No new built form is proposed and the new rooflights within the roof slope offer no significant additional opportunity for overlooking that would warrant refusal. The existing taxi office is an unrestricted use and the change of use to residential is considered to be more compatible with the surrounding residential area.
Proposed Article 4 Restrictions on HMOs in Coventry
Coventry City Council is consulting on a proposed new Development Plan Document (DPD), this DPD contains a set of new proposed policies that will be used in relation to deciding the outcomes of planning applications for new HMOs. In conjunction with the DPD, Coventry City Council will be introducing an Article 4 Direction.
The Development Plan Document represents the first stage of introducing new Planning Policy as part of the plan preparation process known as Regulation 18 (Issues and preferred option). The DPD is accompanied by an Equality and Health Impact assessment and Scoping and Screening reports for Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment. This DPD and supporting documents has been informed by an evidence base which can be found on the Planning Policy Consultation Page (https://www.coventry.gov.uk/planning-policy/planning-policy-consultations).
The DPD Document can be found below under the sub-heading 'Structured Document'. If you have comments to make on this you should add them in in the ‘comments’ boxes provided in each section, please do NOT just send us a word or PDF document with your representations as this will be sent back to you and you will asked to add your comments in online. You are able to upload supporting documents if you so wish. Comments relating to the Article 4 direction, Equality and Health Impact Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal / Habitats Regulations Assessment screening need to be made using our comments form. These can be found in the 'Consultation Documents' section below. The comments form can be found below under 'supporting documents'.
What exaclty is an Article 4 Direction?
Some types of development benefit from what are commonly called “permitted development rights”. These are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 (as amended).
However, where a Local Planning Authority (the Council) considers it necessary, it can make a direction under Article 4 of this legislation (an Article 4 direction) to over-ride the national allowances.
The introduction of an Article 4 Direction does not mean that proposed alterations or development types will be refused, however it establishes the need for planning permissions to be sought for those elements.
What does this Article 4 Direction relate to?
Currently, under ‘Permitted Development’ rules, planning permission is not required for the change of use a family dwelling to a small HMO (less than 6 unrelated occupants in a single dwelling). The introduction of an Article 4 Direction will withdraw these permitted development rights, so planning permission will need to be obtained before the use can be changed. The Article 4 Direction will apply to eleven wards in Coventry.
Why is this Article 4 Direction considered necessary in Coventry?
The 11 wards to which the Article 4 direction will apply have been identified as having especially high concentrations of HMOs already, so the impacts of further changes would need to be very carefully considered to assess whether or not this might negatively affect the surrounding area.
What will happen now?
The Council must consult on its intention to introduce an Article 4 direction for six weeks. After this period, it will consider any comments that have been made, and a report will be presented to Committee lead by the relevant Cabinet Member. If this Committee agrees that it is appropriate to impose the Article 4 direction, a decision will be made confirming the Article 4 Direction will be introduced.
Once the Article 4 Direction is in place, will it be possible to make changes to my property?
If the Article 4 Direction proposed is brought into force, certain elements of permitted development rights will be removed, this means that should you wish to undertake works of the type covered by the Article 4 Direction, planning permission will be required to be sought from the Local Planning Authority. The introduction of an Article 4 Direction does not itself suggest that alterations will be refused, rather that permissions will be required and proposals will be assessed in regard to their impact upon the character of the area.
Case Study: Use of existing dwelling as 5 bedroom HMO; Garage conversion to
create bedroom and en-suite; Installation of en-suite bathroom to ground floor bedroom at 30 Churchway, Stirchley, Telford, TF3 1XH.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) must adhere to certain fire safety rules, which are generally more stringent than those for single-occupancy dwellings due to the greater risk associated with having multiple residents. These guidelines are designed to minimize the chance of a fire breaking out, ensure that if a fire does occur, it will be detected promptly, and that occupants can safely evacuate.
The regulations can vary somewhat by region, so it's important to consult with your local authority to get the most accurate, up-to-date information. However, here are some general fire safety rules that you should consider when converting a house to a HMO:
Fire Alarm Systems: You need to install a suitable fire detection and alarm system. This will usually be a Grade A, LD2 system in large HMOs. The system should be tested regularly, and the tenants should be aware of its operation.
Emergency Lighting: Install emergency lighting in escape routes, particularly in larger HMOs or those with complicated layouts.
Fire Doors: All doors leading to escape routes should be fire resistant and self-closing. This typically means installing FD30S doors (Fire Door for 30 minutes, with smoke seals), which can resist fire for 30 minutes.
Escape Routes: Make sure there are adequate means of escape, which should be kept clear at all times.
Fire Fighting Equipment: This might include things like fire blankets in kitchens or fire extinguishers. Remember that any equipment provided must be maintained in good order.
Fire Safety Information: Tenants must be provided with information about the fire safety procedures in the house.
Safety of Furniture and Furnishings: Any furniture and furnishings supplied in the HMO must comply with the fire resistance requirements in the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations.
Regular Safety Checks: Regular safety checks should be performed on electrical and gas appliances to ensure they're safe and in good working order.
Risk Assessment: Carry out a fire risk assessment. This should identify any potential fire hazards, who could be at risk, and what measures have been put in place to eliminate or reduce that risk.
Remember, these are just basic guidelines. There may be additional local regulations you need to follow, and larger HMOs or those with vulnerable residents may have additional requirements. Always consult with an expert or local authority when you're planning your HMO conversion to make sure you're fully compliant with the law and your residents are safe.
Part B Fire Safety Please provide a copy of the fire alarm certificate.
A fire alarm certificate in the UK, also known as a fire alarm installation certificate or fire alarm commissioning certificate, is a document that verifies a fire alarm system has been installed correctly, inspected, and tested to meet the standards of the British Standard BS 5839-1 for commercial premises and BS 5839-6 for domestic premises.
This certificate should contain information such as:
Details of the property where the fire alarm system is installed.
Type of fire alarm system installed.
The standard to which the fire alarm system complies.
Details of the installation company, including their accreditation details.
Any deviations from the standard that were necessary during the installation.
A declaration that the system was tested and is working as intended.
Only a competent person should issue a fire alarm certificate. This is typically someone who has the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to perform a fire alarm system installation.
In the UK, this would usually be a professional fire alarm engineer, ideally from a company that is part of a recognized industry scheme like the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) or the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC). These organizations regularly assess their members to ensure they're competent and capable of meeting the relevant technical and safety standards.
It's important to note that while the certificate itself is an important document, the ongoing testing, maintenance, and inspection of your fire alarm system are also crucial components of ensuring fire safety.
Part B Fire Safety Please provide proof of fire doors.
Fire doors are an essential element of the fire safety strategy in buildings in the UK. They are designed to prevent the spread of fire and smoke within a building, allowing occupants more time to evacuate safely. Here are some of the key requirements for fire doors:
Fire Resistance Rating: The door must have a certain fire resistance rating. This is often described as an FD number (Fire Door), such as FD30 or FD60, indicating that the door can withstand fire for 30 or 60 minutes respectively. The specific rating required will depend on the building and where in the building the door is being installed.
Door Frame: The door frame should also be fire-resistant and must be suitable for the door. A fire door and its frame function as a complete assembly, so they must be compatible.
Door Closers: Fire doors must be fitted with door closers that ensure the door will automatically close after being opened. This is to make sure the door is always in a position to prevent the spread of fire when not in use.
Seals: Fire doors must have intumescent seals around the edges that will expand in the event of a fire, filling the gap between the door and the frame to prevent the spread of smoke and fire.
Smoke Seals: In addition to the intumescent fire seal, smoke seals are required on fire doors where they are required to provide a smoke control function. These are usually combined with the intumescent seals in a single product.
Hardware: All hardware on the door, like hinges, handles, and locks, should also be fire-resistant.
Signage: Fire doors must be clearly marked with signage indicating that they are fire doors.
Certification: Fire doors should be certified by an accredited certification scheme, demonstrating that they meet the required performance characteristics.
Installation and Maintenance: Fire doors must be correctly installed and regularly maintained by competent individuals to ensure they remain effective.
Self-closing Devices: All fire doors, apart from those on cupboards and service ducts, should be self-closing and capable of shutting from any angle to fully engage any latch, bolt, or other fastening device.
Note that these are general guidelines, and the exact requirements can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of building, its use, and local regulations. Always consult with a fire safety expert or relevant local authority to ensure that you're meeting all necessary requirements.
Part B Fire Safety Please provide a copy of the emergency lighting certificate.
An Emergency Lighting Certificate in the UK is a document that certifies an emergency lighting system has been designed, installed, and tested according to the requirements of the British Standard BS 5266-1.
The certificate should detail:
The address of the property where the work was done.
The name and address of the person or company that performed the work.
A description of the work that was carried out.
Information about whether the work is new, an addition, or an alteration.
A checklist confirming that various aspects of the installation have been tested and inspected to ensure they comply with BS 5266-1.
Emergency Lighting Certificates can only be issued by a competent person. A competent person, in this case, is an individual who has the skills and knowledge to design, install, and test emergency lighting systems. This is typically a professional electrician or a lighting engineer who has specific training and experience in emergency lighting systems.
The British Standards Institution (BSI), the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting (NICEIC), the Electrical Contractors' Association (ECA), and the Joint Industry Board (JIB) are among the organizations that train, assess, and certify individuals and companies to carry out this kind of work. Therefore, a member of one of these organizations would generally be considered competent to issue an Emergency Lighting Certificate.
Once issued, this certificate is an important legal document that can serve as proof that the emergency lighting system was installed correctly and tested. As with all safety systems, regular maintenance and periodic testing of the emergency lighting system are also important to ensure it remains operational and effective in case of an emergency.
Part B Fire Safety Smoke Detection System
The UK government has specific guidance for fire safety in HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation). This includes requirements for smoke detection systems. Here's a brief overview:
A suitable fire detection and warning system must be installed in an HMO. The type and nature of the system will depend on the size and layout of the HMO, but the standard recommended for most HMOs is a Grade A system in accordance with BS 5839, Part 6.
A Grade A system is a fire detection and fire alarm system in which all circuits capable of processing and signaling fire alarm and fault warning conditions are monitored for integrity. This system will typically use a control and indicating panel.
For most HMOs, the alarm system should be of the LD2 category. LD2 coverage includes:
Escape routes: All circulation areas that form part of the escape routes from the premises, and all circulation areas in which a fire might prevent occupants from reaching the escape routes.
High-risk rooms: This includes any room where a fire is more likely to occur, such as a kitchen.
Here are a few key points to remember:
Interlinked smoke alarms must be installed on each storey of the HMO and in living rooms.
Heat detectors, also interlinked, should be fitted in kitchens.
The alarms should be hard-wired to the electricity supply, but also have a battery backup in case of power failure.
Regular testing and maintenance of the system should be carried out to ensure it remains in full working order.
Remember, this is a general guide and the specific requirements can vary depending on local authority guidance, the size and layout of the HMO, and the specific risk profile of the building. Always consult with a fire safety professional or your local authority's HMO licensing team for advice tailored to your specific situation.
RE: Conversion of a three bedroom dwelling into a five bedroom HMO; creation of three new en-suites and a downstairs shower room at 32 Draycott, Hollinswood, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 2DN.
Part B Fire Safety Please provide a copy of the fire alarm certificate.Part B Fire Safety Please provide proof of fire doors.Part B Fire Safety Please provide a copy of the emergency lighting certificate.Part B Fire SafetySmoke detectors are to be wired to the mains using a separate fuse with battery back-up;interlinked in accordance with BS 5839-6:2013, category LD3, fitted at all levels within thecirculation route, within 7.5m of any habitable room; heat detector to be installed to the kitchen.Part P Electrical safety Please provide an electrical installation and test certification confirming to BS 7671.
In a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the UK, it's recommended to install a heat detector in the kitchen rather than a smoke detector. This is because smoke detectors can be triggered by everyday cooking fumes and steam, causing false alarms.
A heat detector is designed to respond to the increase in temperature caused by a fire. The most common types of heat detectors are fixed temperature detectors, which activate when a certain temperature is reached, and rate-of-rise detectors, which activate when the temperature increases rapidly.
As per the UK's fire safety regulations, these heat detectors should be:
Interlinked with the smoke alarms in other parts of the property so that if one alarm sounds, they all do. This ensures that all occupants are alerted in case of a fire, no matter where they are in the house.
Hard-wired into the property's electricity supply. This is to ensure that the detectors function at all times. They should also have a battery backup in case of power failures.
Installed according to the manufacturer's instructions and regularly tested to make sure they're working correctly.
The heat detectors recommended are usually of Grade A, Category LD2, as per British Standard BS 5839-6.
It's crucial to note that while this gives a general overview, the specific regulations can vary and you should consult with a local fire safety professional or your local council to get advice specific to your situation.
BS 5839-6 is a British Standard that provides recommendations for the planning, design, installation, commissioning, and maintenance of fire detection and fire alarm systems in domestic premises in the UK.
The standard is comprehensive and covers both houses and apartment buildings, whether they are used for single occupancy or multiple occupancy (HMOs). The standard aims to ensure that fire detection and alarm systems in domestic premises are effective in providing early detection of a fire, giving occupants enough time to safely evacuate the premises.
The standard defines different grades and categories of systems, as follows:
Grades of System:
Grade A: A fire detection and fire alarm system with a control and indicating equipment, which complies with the requirements of BS EN 54-2 and BS EN 54-4.
Grade B: A fire detection and fire alarm system comprising one or more detectors, and one or more sounder. The system is not required to have control and indicating equipment.
Grade C: A system of one or more mains-powered smoke alarms, each with a standby supply, and one or more additional sounders.
Grade D: A system of one or more mains-powered smoke or CO alarms, each with an integral standby supply.
Grade E: A system of one or more mains-powered smoke alarms with no standby supply.
Grade F: A system of one or more battery-powered smoke alarms.
Categories of System:
Category LD1: A system installed throughout all circulation areas that form part of the escape routes from the premises, and in all rooms in which a fire might start.
Category LD2: A system installed in all circulation areas that form part of the escape routes from the premises and in all places that present a high fire risk to the occupants.
Category LD3: A system installed in all circulation areas that form part of the escape routes from the premises.
For an HMO, a Grade A system of Category LD2 coverage would generally be the recommended minimum standard, but the exact requirements can vary based on the local authority and the specific nature of the premises. Always consult with a fire safety professional or relevant local authority to ensure that you're meeting all necessary requirements.
Please call me 07931 541 804 for a free no obligation consultation on any HMO projects you have or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to talking through any proposals you may have.