HMO Article 4 Direction - FAQs

What is an Article 4 Direction?

The Planning Acts allow for some types of development or changes of use to take place without planning permission – for example, small extensions to dwellings or changing the use of a building from a bank to a shop. These exceptions are set out in the “General Permitted Development Order”. An Article 4 Direction enables local planning authorities to remove a particular permitted development right in the interest of the proper planning of their area.

What does this particular Article 4 Direction relate to? 

This Article 4 Direction only relates to changes of use from a house or flat (occupied by a single person, couple or family) to a small HMO (a house or flat shared by between 3 and 6 unrelated people). Normally, planning permission is only required for a change of use from a house or flat to an HMO where more than 6 unrelated people will occupy the dwelling. The Article 4 Direction will mean that planning permission will be required for the change of use of a flat or house to an HMO where 3 or more unrelated people will occupy the dwelling. Permission is not required, however, to change from a small HMO back to a dwelling. The Article 4 Direction only applies in the six Leamington Spa wards of Brunswick, Clarendon, Crown, Manor, Milverton and Willes.

What is an HMO? 

An HMO is a House in Multiple Occupation. Generally an HMO is a house or flat shared by an unrelated group of people. Usually they have their own bedroom and share the bathroom and/ or kitchen facilities. Where 3 or more unrelated people share a house or flat in this way it is defined as an HMO. It does not include a house converted to self contained flats.

Why has the Council introduced this Article 4 Direction? 

Most HMOs in the District are small shared houses occupied by up to 6 people. They are concentrated in certain parts of Leamington Spa and these concentrations have lead to issues such as pressures on parking, noise, increased crime and a decline in the more settled population. Whilst the Council accepts that HMOs play an important role in providing low cost housing, particularly for young people, it wishes to ensure that HMOs are more evenly dispersed throughout the town.

What about small HMOs which were already in existence before 1st April 2012? 

The Article 4 Direction will not affect existing small HMOs. It only applies to changes of use which take place on or after 1st April 2012. The point at which the dwelling is occupied is the point at which the change of use takes place.

How will the Council decide applications for a change of use from a house or flat to a small HMO? 

The Local Plan, adopted in 2017, has a specific policy relating to HMOs; Policy H6 Houses in Multiple Occupation and Student Accomodation.