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Shared houses and flats now need planning permission in Plymouth.

In June 2010 the government announced proposals to amend the planning rules for houses in multiple occupation (HMO). This relates to those houses that are shared by between 3 and 6 unrelated individuals. The idea was to cut the number of planning applications in the system. According to the then housing minister Grant Shapps, this measure alone could reduce the number of applications by 8,500 per year by allowing a permitted change of use from a private house to an HMO without any formal planning application.

To mitigate this danger the Regulation allows for each local authority to use what is called an “Article 4 Direction”. This gives them the discretion to bring the application for change to an HMO back within the planning framework.

Plymouth city council have invoked their right to apply the article 4 Direction form the 14th September 2012.

This does not affect any properties already used as HMOs. However if you let the property as a family let and you wish to turn in back into a HMO you will require planning permission.

If you buying a private house and wish to turn this into a HMO, you will now have to obtain planning permission. You will be required to submit a formal application to Plymouth city council and of course there is no guarantee that permission will be granted.

This might be good news if you already own a HMO in the designated areas that the Article 4 Direction covers as these properties will now attract a premium price from Investment buyers.


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