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Legal Updates

Update on new use class for homes in multiple occupation

10 May 2010 #Inward Investment


In our factsheet posted on 8 February we reported the intention of the Government to remove Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) from the dwellinghouse Use Class, with a new definition of HMOs.  At the time of consultation on these proposals it was intended that the new HMO definition would relate to where three or more occupants, not being members of the same family, share basic amenities.

In the event, as a result of an amendment to the Use Classes Order which came into force on 6 April 2010, a new class "C4. Houses in multiple occupation" has been created in respect of the use of a dwellinghouse by not more than six residents as a house in multiple occupation.  This relates to shared dwellinghouses occupied by up to six unrelated individuals who share basic amenities.

There has been a relatively minor adjustment to class C3 which now relates to use as a dwellinghouse by (a) a single person or people to be regarded as forming a single household, (b) not more than six residents living together as a single household where care is provided for residents, and (c) not more than six residents living together as a single household where no care is provided to residents.  Use within class C4 is excluded from (c), the distinction between the two being that the characteristic of the class C3 uses is that the occupants live together as a single household.

At the same time an amendment was made to permitted development rights to enable a change from a class C4 HMO to a class C3 dwellinghouse use without this constituting development requiring planning permission.  However a change from a class C3 use to a class C4 HMO use does not have corresponding permitted development rights, nor the benefit of remaining within the same use class and therefore not constituting development.  The question which arises in such circumstances is whether the change would be a material change in use.  If so, planning permission would be required.

Use of a dwellinghouse by more than six residents sharing basic amenities does not fall within any of the use classes.  A change to this form of use of residential accommodation is likely to be regarded as a material change in use requiring planning permission unless, for instance, the change is from a class C4 HMO occupied by six people and the new proposal is for a relatively minor increase in the number of residents, in which case the local planning authority might take the view that a minor incremental increase does not amount to a material change.

These arrangements do not affect the continuation of authorised use of a dwellinghouse as an HMO (or for the class C3 uses) existing prior to 6 April.

Clarkslegal, specialist Inward Investment lawyers in London, Reading and throughout the Thames Valley.
For further information about this or any other Inward Investment matter please contact Clarkslegal's inward investment team by email at contact@clarkslegal.com by telephone 020 7539 8000 (London office), 0118 958 5321 (Reading office) or by completing the form on this page.

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