Guidance on houses in multiple occupation in Newcastle upon Tyne

This note gives Planning guidance concerning houses in multiple occupation following changes to legislation in April and October 2010, and the subsequent introduction of several Article 4 Directions in Newcastle upon Tyne.  The changes mean that where an Article 4 Direction has been applied planning permission is required for the change of use of a dwellinghouse to HMO accommodation.

If you require clarification on any aspect of Planning Regulations then you are advised to contact Development Management on 0191 2787878 or by email planning.control@newcastle.gov.uk.

Definitions

Planning use classes are set out in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended).

Class C3 dwellinghouses:

Class C3 of the Use Classes Order relates to the occupation of a dwellinghouse by "a single person or by people to be regarded as forming a single household".  A single household is as defined in the Housing Act 2004 and means the occupants must all be related, such as mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents.  A couple who are co-habiting will also form a single household under Class C3.  There is no restriction on the number of people who live as a single household.

Class C3 also includes those living together as a single household and receiving care, and those living together as a single household who do not fall within Class C4 (defined below) such as a small religious community or an owner who is living with up to two lodgers.

Class C4 houses in multiple occupation (3 to 6 unrelated people):
In broad terms Class C4 relates to small shared houses or flats occupied by between three and six unrelated people who share basic amenities.

To fall within the "house in multiple occupation" definition a property must be occupied as the main residence.  Guests visiting for short periods should not be included in any calculation of the number of occupants.  Students, migrants or asylum seekers who do not occupy the property all year will be considered as occupying the property as their main residence and should be included in any calculation of occupant numbers.

Social housing is excluded from Class C4.  Properties containing the owner and up to two lodgers do not constitute houses in multiple occupation and would fall within Class C3.

Sui generis houses in multiple occupation (more than 6 unrelated people):
Houses in multiple occupation where more than six unrelated people are sharing do not generally fall within Class C4 and are classed as sui generis.  

What changes of use require planning permission?

On 6 April 2010 an amendment to the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended) introduced an additional use class.  The change effectively split the original Class C3 (dwellinghouses) class into two separate classes - Class C3 (dwellinghouses) and Class C4 (houses in multiple occupation).  The introduction of the new class meant that properties were reclassified as falling into the new Class C3 or Class C4 depending upon the use at that time.  At that time, it was not permitted development to move from Class C3 to Class C4.  Therefore, if a property was reclassified as a Class C3 use as of 6 April 2010, planning permission was thereafter required to change to Class C4.
 
On 1 October 2010, further amendments to Planning legislation were introduced which gave permitted development rights for a change of use from Class C3 to Class C4.  As a result planning permission was not required to change use from a Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to a Class C4 (HMO) and vice versa. 

However, Newcastle City Council has since introduced several Article 4 Directions which remove those permitted development rights established on 1 October 2010.  The result of the Directions mean that in certain parts of the City, planning permission is required to change use from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO).  The areas covered by an Article 4 Direction are set out in the table below.  Therefore, if you are considering purchasing an HMO, establishing a new HMO or increasing the number of occupants in an existing HMO then you should seek advice from Development Management as to whether the use could be considered lawful or if it requires planning permission.  

Outside the areas covered by an Article 4 Direction, it remains permitted development to move between Class C3 (dwellinghouses) and Class C4 (HMO) without the need to apply for planning permission.

Planning permission will normally be required to change from a Class C4 HMO (3 to 6 occupants) to an HMO for more than six occupants.

Article 4 Directions in Newcastle upon Tyne

A plan showing all areas within the City covered by an Article 4 Direction, which means that planning permission is required for the change of use of a dwellinghouse to HMO accommodation, can be viewed at:

  • Details to follow - contact Development Management

Information concerning each individual Article 4 Direction can be viewed in the following table:

Date Direction came into force General area of City covered by the Direction Direction and Plan
25 November 2011 Parts of Heaton, High West Jesmond, Jesmond, South Gosforth, Sandyford and Spital Tongues click here
9 December 2012 Parts of High West Jesmond and North Jesmond click here
9 August 2013 Saint Gabriel's' Estate, Heaton. click here

A full list of streets covered by the above Directions can be viewed at:

  • Details to follow - contact Development Management

How will applications for planning permission for houses in multiple occupation be assessed?

Applications for the erection, conversion, extension or alteration of a property to a house in multiple occupation will be assessed against the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), saved Polices set out in the Council Unitary Development Plan (UDP), and the Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities.

National Policy set out by the Government is contained in the NPPF.  The NPPF sets out that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development, and outlines that there are three dimensions to sustainable development namely economic, social and environmental.  The social role relates to the need to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities, by providing a supply of housing required to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Click here to view a copy of the NPPF.

The UDP contains saved Polices H2, H3 and H4 which relate to housing developments.  Saved Policy H2 seeks to protect the residential amenity of existing dwellings.  Saved Policy H3 seeks to protect large, traditional, good quality dwellings.  Saved Policy H4 seeks to ensure new housing is of a high quality.

Click here to view a copy of the UDP.

The Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities contains Policy SC1, which sets out nine criteria against which planning applications for HMO accommodation will be assessed including works to Tyneside flats.

Click here to view a copy of the Supplementary Planning Document: Maintaining Sustainable Communities.

You can obtain pre-application advice on the issues to be considered and information required to be supplied for a HMO planning application through the Council's pre-application service.  Click here to view details of this service.

Would a property which has been occupied by between three and six unrelated people prior to the introduction of an Article 4 Direction require planning permission?

Planning legislation and Article 4 Directions do not apply retrospectively.  As a result planning permission is unlikely to be required for an established Class C4 HMO provided the property was brought into that use when planning permission was not required and has remained in the same use class ever since.
 
When selling an HMO or if you seek to increase the number of occupants, you may be required to demonstrate that the HMO is lawful in planning terms.  To do this you must apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.  Guidance has been provided below on Lawful Development Certificates.

I have a property which is an existing Class C4 HMO and am considering adding an extra occupant.  Does this need planning permission?

If you have an established Class C4 HMO and are considering accommodating an additional occupant then planning permission would not be required provided that the total number of occupants does not exceed six.  If you intend to increase the number of occupants to more than six unrelated people then you will normally need to apply for planning permission.

My property is not located within the area where an Article 4 Direction has been applied.  How will this affect me?

If your property is not located in an area where an Article 4 Direction has been applied you will be able to change the use of your property from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO) and back again without the need to apply for planning permission.  You will still however require planning permission to create a HMO with more than six occupants.

Lawful Development Certificates

An application for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) may be submitted in cases where the owner of an HMO wishes to have the historic use of the property confirmed.  The submission of an application for a LDC will allow the City Council to make a determination as to whether the use is lawful for planning control purposes on the dates specified in the application.

Once it is granted, the LDC remains valid for the use or development described in it, on the land it describes, provided there is no subsequent material change in the circumstances at the property.  Application forms and guidance on how to submit such an application is available on the Council's website here.

What type of information will I need to provide to support an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a house in multiple occupation?

The following is a list of supporting information which may assist the City Council in determining applications for a Lawful Development Certificate for HMO accommodation:
1. Details of the occupiers of the property in years prior to 6 April 2010 setting out the number of occupants, when persons moved in and out and their relationship to the owner of the property and form of occupation (tenant, relative, guest etc).
2. A copy of tenancy agreements, or if not available, whether rents were payable or provided, in respect of the persons occupying the accommodation.
3. Details of the form of accommodation to demonstrate that the occupants share one or more basic amenities such as toilet, bathroom or kitchen/cooking facilities.
4. Signed statement from the owners of the property/tenants confirming the tenancy agreements and tenants set out in 1 and 2 were carried out and completed in accordance with the agreements and accounting for any gaps between one tenancy agreement ending and another starting and setting out reasons for when the property was empty.
5. In cases where the applicant is applying based on the property benefiting from a permitted change from Class C3 (dwellinghouses) to Class C4 (HMO) between 1 October 2010 and prior to the Article 4 Direction coming into force, a signed statement from the owner/tenant confirming the number and form of occupation prior to that date.
6. Plans of the property showing the layout of rooms.
7. Completed application form signed and dated.
8. Location plan at a scale of 1:1250 with the property outlined with a red line.
9. Application Fee.

Other consents

You may also require a license for a house in multiple occupation under the Housing Act 2004 as well as planning permission and building regulations approval.  Advice on the licensing of properties and details of HMO licenses in the City can be found on the Council's website at:
https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/housing/houses-multiple-occupation/houses-multiple-occupancy

Contact details

If you wish to purchase an existing HMO in those parts of the City covered by an Article 4 Direction you are strongly advised to check that the use is lawful.

If you wish to discuss individual cases or report a potential breach of planning control then you should contact Development Management on 0191 2787878 or by email planning.control@newcastle.gov.uk.

Updated June 2013

 

Page last updated: 21 March, 2014