House In Multiple Occupation (HMO) London

If you have plans to rent property to people who will be sharing the same kitchen and bathroom, you should probably be aware of the Planning Permission for HMO. Failure to comply with these permissions can lead to fines of up to £20,000.

In this article, we explain all aspects of HMOs and property investing such that even if you are a beginner HMO landlord, you can easily comply with the permission requirements when turning your home into a multi-let.

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Why Are Councils Withdrawing Permitted Development Rights for HMO in London?

The Town and County Council planning Acts make an Article 4 Direction statement which can allow local authorities to remove any permitted development in certain conditions. The Article 4 must be accompanied by a plan that shows the area subject to the direction.

In this way, Councils aim to manage the development of HMOs and improve the living standards of residents while meeting the housing needs of the community. Although, they have long been an issue in London and the UK as a whole HMOs can be a great source of low cost, private sector homes for those seeking temporary accommodation or housing for students.

Can You Convert a House into an HMO under Permitted Development Rights?

Ordinarily, you don’t need planning permission to convert a dwelling house or a flat to a multiple occupancy dwelling. You do however need planning permission to change the use of a C3 Dwelling House to C4 HMO, if your council decides to remove the rights by enforcing article 4 direction. This is happening more and more, so be prepared in case your council removes the right.

The most important thing to note about Article 4 direction is that it will not stop development or conversion of a house to HMO; it only requires that you purse planning permissions for HMO. So, even if your council enforces it, you can still go ahead with the development, but you must first get HMO planning permissions.

Can You Convert a House into an HMO under Permitted Development Rights?

What is the Difference between C3 and C4?

A home used by a single person or a family home is generally classified as a C3 dwelling. A small home that is shared by up to 6 unrelated individuals is classified as a C4 or HMO and a house that is shared by more than 6 unrelated individuals is classified as a Large HMO. You will only get permitted permission from the government only when the changes you want to make the home comply with regulations. The changes made to the order allow landlords to make changes between these classes without a planning permission subject to certain conditions. Planning permission becomes necessary for change of use from say a C3 to a C4. This is especially true is the Article 4 direction is there in your area. 

How Councils are Withdrawing Permitted Development Rights for HMO

HMOs are an essential part of the housing industry and it is therefore necessary to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet increasing housing demands. At the same time, it is also important to ensure the quality of HMOs and proper assessments to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the surrounding residential properties.

For this reason, most Councils are confirming Article 4 direction for the changing of a single use to a C4 dwelling in some locations. This makes it necessary to have permitted development for the changes to be made. This however doesn’t mean that all HMOs that require planning permissions get them. Some don’t and this can lead to an increase in the number of HMOs in a certain area that can put an unnecessary strain on the amenities for the other homes in the areas. When a Council confirms the Article 4 direction, they can monitor the location of all new HMOs and assess the impact of the HMO on the area’s amenities.

Do I Need a HMO License?

You may need to apply for mandatory licensing if your property is at least 3 stories high and there are 5 or more residents living in the home at some point. There are some circumstances where you may need licensing for a much smaller HMO. These include the following;

  • If five or more people are living in the home regardless of the number of stories
  • If five or more people are living an HMO that is located above or below a business premises
  • If the home is a self-contained flat but not a purpose-built flat on a block that comprises 3 or more flats.


It is important to note that if you rent the property without the necessary licensing, you could be fined up to £20,000.

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