What is a Class C4 use?
A property is in class C4 use when it is occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals as their only or main residence and who share basic amenities for cooking and/or personal hygiene – Class C4 use applies regardless of the type of occupant. To be classified as an HMO, a property does not need to be converted or adapted in any way. The definition can include small bed-sits.
Types of use that are excluded from the C4 class include social housing, care homes, children’s homes, bail hostels, properties containing the owner and up to two lodgers and properties occupied by students that are managed by an education establishment.
Can you provide me with pre-planning advice on the likelihood of planning permission being granted to change the use of my property to Class C4 (HMO)?
Unfortunately we are unable to indicate at the pre-application stage whether or not an application would receive officer support.
The database is continually being updated as the status of property changes/becomes known/planning permissions are granted, but this only acts as one of the tools that we use to collate information about HMO concentrations in any particular area.
View our HMO Database.
I intend to buy a property that was in C4 HMO use before the 1 November 2011 – will I have to apply again for planning permission once I have bought it?
No, if the C4 use was established prior to the 1 November 2011 then this will be considered its lawful use. You should seek to secure your own evidence, such as copies of tenancy agreements, to show that the property was in Class C4 use on or before 31 October 2011. Please note, you may be asked to prove that the property was in such use before the 1 November 2011. If you are in any doubt about whether this is the case, you should seek independent advice.
You or the vendor could also apply to the city council for a Certificate of Lawful Use. There would be a fee for this certificate.
How do I apply for planning permission to change the use of my property from class C3 to class C4?
Planning applications for change of use can be made online using The planning portal website. For a change of use application we would expect to see a site plan and floor plans. The fee applicable to this type of application is £462.
I sometimes let my HMO property out to a family – will I need to apply for planning permission to change ‘back’ to a C4 HMO use each time I do this?
Letting a property in class C4 use to a family for any period of time will mean that its use will change to a class C3 dwelling house. You will need to apply for planning permission to change the use of the property ‘back’ to a class C4 HMO if you want to rent it out again to between three and six unrelated individuals.
Renting to less than three unrelated individuals would also mean that the use of the property has changed from class C4 to C3. (Unless, for example, there are other tenancy agreements in place for more occupants but only one or two are currently in residence or the landlord is actively seeking further tenants.)
Another option is to apply for planning permission for mixed C3/C4 use. This will mean that the property can be used in either way. You can apply for permission for a mixed C3/C4 use from 1 November 2011. The fee for this application is £462.
If my property is empty for a period of time will it lose its class C4 status?
A property won’t lose its class C4 ‘status’ if it’s empty. If the property was used as a C4 HMO prior to it being empty (if this use was established prior to 1 November 2011 or if it was granted planning permission for C4 use after this date) then this will remain its lawful use.
What if I want to rent my property to more than six people?
The rules relating to properties where seven or more unrelated individuals are sharing amenities have not changed. Where there is a material change to this type of use, planning permission will be required. If you wish to rent your property to seven or more people, you must apply to the city council for planning permission to do so. There will be a fee to make this type of planning application.
Will I need a licence from the city council to operate an HMO?
Yes – you may require a licence, under the Housing Act 2004, to operate an HMO. For more information, and to find out about our landlord accreditation scheme – please visit our pages for private landlords.