Important changes to rules on HMOs


An important change in the planning rules relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) became effective on 6 April 2010.

A new planning use of Class C4 (a house in multiple occupation) was created for the occupation of a dwellinghouse by between three and six unrelated occupants living as separate households but sharing basic amenities. Class C4 excludes social housing, care homes, homes occupied by an owner occupier and up to two lodgers, and students living in accommodation managed by their educational establishment.

The change is not retrospective, so houses already so occupied prior to 6 April 2010 will not need a planning permission to continue to be so occupied. Houses being newly so occupied on or after 6 April 2010 will, however, require a new planning consent. So, for example, parents who purchase a house previously in the occupation of a single household for their student child and between two and five friends to occupy, after 6 April 2010 will need to obtain planning permission to change the use to Class C4. However, if subsequently the parents decide to sell the property with vacant possession, they will not need to apply for planning permission to turn the property back into a single family home. That is covered by an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. This change in the planning regime does not affect the separate licensing requirements for HMOs.

For further information, please contact:

Amanda Hado-Bodfield, Partner, Fladgate LLP (

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