Houses in Multiple Occupation
Until the 2004 Housing Act there had been a lot of confusion and contradictory case law on the subject of what constituted a ‘House in Multiple Occupation’. The new 2004 Housing Act tightened up the definition. The main element of the definition is that, in order for a house to be an HMO, there must be some sharing of facilities (baths, WCs and kitchens). On 6th April 2010, an amendment to the Use Classes Order introduced a definition of small-scale houses in multiple occupation (HMO) into the planning system. It split the previous Class C3 (dwellinghouses) into 2 seperate classes – Class C3 (dwellinghouses) and Class C4 (houses in multiple occupation). A change in April 2010 gave permitted development rights for changes of use from C4 to C3. and a further change later in the year (1st October 2010) made this permitted development reciprocal (i.e. C3 to C4 became Permitted Development).
The effect of the April and October changes to legislation were to allow changes from C3 (dwellinghouses) to C4 (HMO) and visa versa under Permitted Development.
The Government issued a guidance note in November 2010. The circular can be found here