Manchester City Council

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Planning & regeneration Article 4 Direction: changing the use of your property

Article 4 Direction

Turning your house into a House in Multiple Occupation

In Manchester you need planning permission to let a house out to more than two unrelated people, if the house is currently not used as a House in Multiple Occupation.  This because the Council has used a legal process called an Article 4 Direction which means that development, which in other places would not usually need planning permission, does in Manchester.

When is planning permission needed?

Planning regulations set out the use classes which different types of land use fall within. In Manchester planning permission is needed for a change of use from a typical home for a single household to a property used as a ‘small’ - between three and six people sharing - House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

The following types of house equate to a typical home for a single household (under planning regulations this is called the C3 Use Class):

• a house lived in by a single person or people regarded as a single household as defined by the Housing Act 2004 (see appendix 1)
• a house where six or less people are living together as a single household where care is provided - household in this case is a household as applied under planning law
• situations where six or less people live together (without care provided) but which do not meet the tests for being a small HMO. This equates to people living as a single household (as applied under planning law) but where no rent is paid by any occupant; or the premises are also used as a workplace; or the premises are new build and occupants do not share washing/cooking/toilet facilities.

The following type of house fall is classed as a small HMO (under planning regulations this is called the C4 Use Class):

• a house lived in by three or more but fewer than seven people as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) using the definition of a HMO set out in s254 of the Housing Act 2004. (see appendix 1) i.e. people who do not form a single household but who share one or more basic amenities.

HMOs with more than six residents fall within a separate Use Class and planning permission is also needed to use your house in this way. 

Some buildings are not HMOs even if they meet the requirements for being one.  These are:

• Buildings managed or controlled by a local housing authority, a Registered Provider or certain other public bodies.
• Buildings regulated under other enactments e.g. care homes and children's homes.
• Buildings occupied mainly by students studying full time where a specified educational establishment manages the building e.g. a hall of residence.
• Buildings occupied for the purpose of a religious community whose main occupation is prayer, contemplation, education or relief of suffering.
• Buildings occupied by a freeholder or long leaseholder and any member of their household (if any) and by not more than two other people who do not form part of the freeholder's household.
• Buildings occupied by only two persons each of whom form a single household.

Applying for planning permission

You need to apply to us for permission to change from a house typically lived in by a family to a HMO property.

Apply for planning permission to 'change use'

Because this type of application is required by the Article 4 Direction you don’t need to pay for an application to change use to a small HMO.

Once the property is being used as a HMO you would not need permission to revert to using it as a family house again, however if you do this you would then need permission to use as a HMO again.

Policy H11 of the Council's Local Development Framework Core Strategy  sets out the approach which we will take towards controlling further HMOs. In general we would be unlikely to let you change your property into a HMO if there are a lot of other shared houses nearby.

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