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C4 HMO – House in Multiple Occupation

Small houses which are used by between 3 and 6 unrelated residents

C4 Use Class - Houses in multiple occupation (HMO)

The C4 use class refers to small houses which are used by between 3 and 6 unrelated residents as a house for multiple occupation (or HMO) where they share basic amenities such as kitchen or bathrooms and use it as their only (or main) residence.

The C4 HMO use class was added to The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) in 2010.

Other similar Houses in Multiple Occupancy planning uses include C3(c) which allow for groups of up to 6 people living together as a single household. Houses with more than six residents will be classed as Sui Generis use.


Permitted Development (C3 to C4 Use)

Generally changing the use of a dwelling house (C3) into a small house in multiple occupation (C4 use class) is classed as permitted development, meaning that HMO planning permission is not normally required, subject to certain limits and conditions, although please see below for restrictions to this.

In addition, it is generally classed as permitted development to change from a C4 Use (small houses in multiple occupation) back to a C3 (dwellinghouse) without the need for planning approval. Please note that while planning consent may not be required, other approvals and licenses, such as Building Regulations approval may also be required.

If you are looking to convert to or from a House in Multiple Occupation, contact us to discuss how we can assist.


Article 4 Direction & C4 Use HMO’s

Some houses in multiple occupation do not normally require HMO planning permission, this has led to a concentration of such uses in particular areas (around Universities, Hospitals etc).

This has reduced the mix of housing available in some areas and created unbalanced communities. Many LPA’s have taken action to prevent further changes of use from dwellinghouses to C4 Use HMO’s by introducing Article 4 Directions in certain areas, meaning that planning approval would now be required.

These are introduced to ensure the quality and location of such properties are controlled to ensure no adverse impacts on the surrounding area or other residential properties.

Many London Authorities and cities such as Manchester, Liverpool & Birmingham, have such restrictions, often covering the whole of the local planning authority area. This is not exclusively linked to the big cities, with Councils such as Thanet District Council, Cheshire West and Cheshire and Cornwall Council having or considering such restrictions.

If you are considering converting a property into a C4 Use HMO, contact us to discuss the opportunities and issues.


Regularising your HMO planning

If you have a property that has been used as a house in multiple occupancy for a long time, but doesn’t have planning approval or is now located within an Article 4 Direction area it maybe possible to obtain a Lawful Development Certificate to confirm the existing use is lawful if you can prove continuous use. These certificates can be useful for prospective purchasers or to raise finance on the properties.

If you have a C4 Use HMO property that doesn’t currently have planning consent; please contact us to discuss how we can assist in regularising the situation for you.


Disclaimer: This page provides an introduction only and is not a definitive statement of the law and should therefore not be relied upon. The information above relates to England only. Policies across the rest of the UK may differ. Contact your Local Planning Authority for advice and confirmation before any works are carried out. All images used are for illustrative purposes only. Read the full disclaimer here.

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