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Small Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Article 4 Direction

From 29 May 2016 planning permission is required anywhere in Barnet to convert a dwelling house (Use Class C3) to a small HMO (Use Class C4) where between 3 and 6 unrelated people share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom. Within the planning system a HMO can be either a house split into separate bedsits, a shared house or shared flat. A property does not need to be converted or adapted in any way to be classified as a HMO.

Larger HMOs are properties occupied by more than 6 unrelated individuals who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom facilities. They are classified as ‘sui generis’ (a use like no other) and always require planning permission.

A small HMO (Use Class C4) which existed in Barnet before 29 May 2016 does not require planning permission. If necessary a Lawful Development Certificate can be sought and this will confirm whether or not planning permission is required.  Robust evidence demonstrating the existing use should support an application for a Lawful Development Certificate.

A planning application for a small HMO will be considered against policies in Barnet’s Local Plan in particular:

CS04 : Providing Quality Homes and Housing Choice in Barnet:
CS05 : Protecting and Enhancing Barnet’s Character:
DM01: Protecting Barnet’s Character and Amenity; and 
DM09: Specialist Housing – HMOs, Student Accommodation and Housing Choice for Older People.
 
Further guidance on conversions and HMOs is also set out in Barnet’s Residential Design Guidance SPD.

Introducing an Article 4 Direction to manage HMOs through the planning system supports the implementation of an Additional Licensing scheme as part of an effective borough-wide strategy to better regulate HMOs in Barnet.  The Council will also commence an Additional Licensing Scheme on 5 July 2016 from which point other kinds HMOs will be required to have a licence alongside the existing mandatory licensing scheme. Unlike the planning Article 4 Direction, the licensing scheme applies retrospectively. To read more on the Additional Licensing, Mandatory Licensing and standards for HMOs please see Environmental Health's HMO licensing page.

Further information

An Article 4 Direction made under Town & Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 suspends particular Permitted Development rights that otherwise would be available under that Order. The permitted development rights suspended are within Class L(b) of Part 3 (Changes of Use) of Schedule 2. Article 4 Directions do not mean that planning consent would not be granted; it merely means that an application has to be submitted so that the Council can examine the proposal in detail.

Article 4 Directions are intended for use in exceptional circumstances where it is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of an area (Para 200, NPPF). A robust evidence base is essential in order to justify its purpose and extent. The consultation on the HMO Article 4 Direction ran from 28 May to 30 August 2015 and set out the Supporting Case. The making of a non-immediate Article 4 Direction was reported to Planning Committee on 18 May 2015 and confirmed at Planning Committee on 23 May 2015 which also reported the results of consultation.

An Equalities Impact Assessment was carried out and can be accessed in the downloads section below.

The Article 4 Direction can remain in place permanently once it has been confirmed. The Direction will be monitored in the Authorities Monitoring Report to make certain the original reasons for making the Direction remain valid. A Direction should be cancelled when it is no longer necessary.

Answers to specific property owner questions

  • An application for a small HMO (Use Class C4) is exempt from the usual planning application fee.
  • Where an existing lawful small HMO (Use Class C4) property is extended to increase the number of occupants then planning permission will be required for the increase in occupants.
  • If a small HMO (Use Class C4) was last rented out as a Class C4 HMO then you do not need permission to re-let the property after it has been vacant.
  • If a small HMO (Use Class C4) was rented out as a family home (Use Class C3) after 29 May 2016 then it will require planning permission to be used again as a small HMO (Use Class C4).
  • The Permitted Development right will remain for the change of use from a small HMO (Use Class C4) to a dwelling house (Use Class C3).
  • The room size standards and shared facility provision required by planning policy for a small HMO (Use Class C4) are set out in Barnet Councils adopted HMO standards. The adopted HMO standards apply to all HMO including larger ‘sui generis’.

A 'single household' is defined in the Housing Act 2004. In broad terms it equates to people living together not being considered a single household unless they are members of the same family. Further detail is set out in the Council's HMO Licensing page.

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