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Houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)

In certain areas of Newcastle, planning permission is required for to turn a house into a HMO (a house in multiple occupation ).

Following changes to legislation in 2010, and the subsequent introduction of several Article 4 Directions in Newcastle upon Tyne, mean that where there is an Article 4 Direction,  you will need planning permission.

In addition, most HMOs will require a separate licence from the Council under the Housing Act.  Advice on the licensing of properties and details of HMO licenses in the City can be found here.

 

Definitions

Planning use classes are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).

Class C3 dwellinghouses:

Class C3 of the Use Classes Order relates to the occupation of a dwellinghouse by "a single person or by people to be regarded as forming a single household".  A single household is as defined in the Housing Act 2004 and means the occupants must all be related, such as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.  A couple who are co-habiting will also form a single household under Class C3.  There is no restriction on the number of people who live as a single house.

Class C3 also includes those living together as a single house and receiving care, and those living together as a single house who do not fall within Class C4 (defined below) such as a small religious community or an owner who is living with up to two lodgers.

Class C4 houses in multiple occupation (3 to 6 unrelated people):

Class C4 relates to small shared houses or flats occupied by between three and six unrelated people who share basic facilities.

To fall within the "house in multiple occupation" definition, a property must be occupied as the main residence.  Guests visiting for short periods should not be included in any calculation of the number of occupants.  Students, migrants or asylum seekers who do not occupy the property all year will be considered as occupying the property as their main residence and should be included in any calculation of occupant numbers.

Social housing is excluded from Class C4.  Properties containing the owner and up to two lodgers are not houses in multiple occupation and would fall within Class C3.

Sui generis houses in multiple occupation (more than 6 unrelated people):
 Houses in multiple occupation where more than six unrelated people are sharing do not generally fall within Class C4 and are classed as sui generis

 

What changes of use require planning permission?

A 2010 amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) introduced an additional use class.  The change effectively split the original Class C3 (dwellinghouses) class into two separate classes - Class C3 (dwellinghouses) and Class C4 (houses in multiple occupation).  The introduction of the new class meant that properties were reclassified as falling into the new Class C3 or Class C4 depending upon the use at that time. 
 
Further amendments to Planning legislation were introduced in 2010 which gave permitted development rights for a change of use from Class C3 to Class C4.  As a result planning permission was not required to change use from a Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to a Class C4 (HMO) and vice versa.

However, Newcastle City Council has since introduced several Article 4 Directions which remove those permitted development rights.  This means that in certain parts of the Newcastle, planning permission is required to change use from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO).  The areas covered by an Article 4 Direction are set out in the table and map below.  So, if you are considering purchasing an HMO, establishing a new HMO, or increasing the number of occupants in an existing HMO, then you should seek advice from Planning to see if the use could be lawful or if it needs planning permission. 

Outside the areas covered by an Article 4 Direction, it remains permitted development to move between Class C3 (dwellinghouses) and Class C4 (HMO) without the need to apply for planning permission.

Planning permission will normally be needed to change from a Class C4 HMO (3 to 6 occupants) to an HMO for more than six occupants.

 

Article 4 Directions in Newcastle upon Tyne

Information about each individual Article 4 Direction can be viewed in the following table:

article 4 directions
Date Direction came into force General area of City covered by the Direction Direction and Plan
25 November 2011 Parts of Heaton, High West Jesmond, Jesmond, South Gosforth, Sandyford and Spital Tongues view
9 December 2012 Parts of High West Jesmond and North Jesmond view
9 August 2013 Saint Gabriel's' Estate, Heaton view

 (This files above may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. Request an accessible format. )

Here is our interactive map of the Article 4 Areas in Newcastle.  You can zoom in and out to get a closer look of the area you're interested in.  Click-and-drag or use the arrow keys to move the move around.  Click a coloured area or red line on the map to display a pop-up box with more information on it.  The HMO restriction areas are labelled 'Area of Housing Mix'.  There is a search option under the map where you can search using a postcode. There is an option in the top right corner of the map to switch the aerial photography on and off.

 

How will the Planning application be assessed?

To assess applications for the erection, conversion, extension or alteration of a property to a house in multiple occupation , we will use the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), saved Polices set out in the Council Unitary Development Plan (UDP), and the Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities.

National Policy set out by the Government is contained in the NPPF.  The NPPF states that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, and outlines that there are three dimensions to sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental.  The social role relates to the need to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing a supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations.

View a copy of the NPPF.

The UDP contains saved Polices H2, H3 and H4 which relate to housing developments.  Saved Policy H2 seeks to protect the residential amenity of existing dwellings.  Saved Policy H3 seeks to protect large, traditional, good quality dwellings.  Saved Policy H4 seeks to ensure new housing is of a high quality.

View a copy of the UDP.

The Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities contains Policy SC1, which sets out nine criteria against which planning applications for HMO accommodation will be assessed including works to Tyneside flats.

View a copy of the Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities.

You can obtain pre-application advice on the issues to be considered and information required to be supplied for a HMO planning application through the Council's pre-application service.  View details of this service.

 

Would a property which has been occupied by between three and six unrelated people prior to the introduction of an Article 4 Direction require planning permission?

Planning legislation and Article 4 Directions do not apply retrospectively.  As a result planning permission is unlikely to be needed for an established Class C4 HMO,  provided the property was brought into that use when planning permission was not required and has remained in the same use class ever since.
 
 When selling an HMO or if you seek to increase the number of occupants, you may be required to demonstrate that the HMO is lawful in planning terms.  To do this you must apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.  Guidance has been provided below on Lawful Development Certificates.

 

I have a property which is an existing Class C4 HMO, and am considering adding an extra occupant.  Does this need planning permission?

If you have an established Class C4 HMO and are considering accommodating an additional occupant then planning permission would not be required provided that the total number of occupants does not exceed six.  If you intend to increase the number of occupants to more than six unrelated people then you will normally need to apply for planning permission.

 

My property is not located within the area where an Article 4 Direction has been applied.  How will this affect me?

If your property is not located in an area where an Article 4 Direction has been applied you will be able to change the use of your property from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO) and back again without the need to apply for planning permission.  You will still need planning permission to create a HMO with more than six occupants.

 

Lawful Development Certificates

An application for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) may be submitted when the owner of an HMO wants to confirm the historic use of the property.  Submitting an application for a LDC will allow the City Council to decide if the Planning use is lawful on the dates specified in the application.

Once it is granted, the LDC remains valid for the use or development described in it, on the land it describes, provided there is no subsequent material change in the circumstances at the property.  Application forms and guidance on how to submit such an application is available on the Council's website here.

 

What type of information will I need to provide to support an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a house in multiple occupation?

 1. Details of the occupiers of the property in years prior to 6 April 2010 setting out the number of occupants, when persons moved in and out and their relationship to the owner of the property and form of occupation (tenant, relative, guest etc).
 2. A copy of tenancy agreements, or if not available, whether rents were payable or provided, in respect of the persons occupying the accommodation.
 3. Details of the form of accommodation to demonstrate that the occupants share one or more basic amenities such as toilet, bathroom or kitchen/cooking facilities.
 4. Signed statement from the owners of the property/tenants confirming the tenancy agreements and tenants set out in 1 and 2 were carried out and completed in accordance with the agreements and accounting for any gaps between one tenancy agreement ending and another starting and setting out reasons for when the property was empty.
 5. In cases where the applicant is applying based on the property benefiting from a permitted change from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO) between 1 October 2010 and prior to the Article 4 Direction coming into force, a signed statement from the owner/tenant confirming the number and form of occupation prior to that date.
 6. Plans of the property showing the layout of rooms.
 7. Completed application form signed and dated.  You can find our forms here.
 8. Location plan at a scale of 1:1250 with the property outlined with a red line.
 9. Application Fee.

 

Other consents

You may also require a license for a house in multiple occupation under the Housing Act 2004 as well as planning permission and building regulations approval.  Advice on the licensing of properties and details of HMO licenses in the City can be found on the Council's Housing webpage .
 

 

Contact details

If you wish to purchase an existing HMO in those parts of the City covered by an Article 4 Direction you are strongly advised to check that the use is lawful.

If you wish to discuss individual cases or report a possible breach of rules then you can report this to the Planning Enforcement team here, or contact us on 0191 2787878 and ask for 'Planning', or email planning.control@newcastle.gov.uk.

Did you know?

You can use this interactive map to see the locations of all the restricted areas in Newcastle.  The HMO restriction areas are the coloured areas which are labelled 'Area of Housing Mix' when you click on them.

 

If you believe there is a property which is in breach of these rules, you can be report this to the Planning Enforcement team here.

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