Houses in Multiple Occupation: Guidance on Planning Control and Licensing

Guidance on planning control and licensing in relation to Houses in Multiple Occupation.


7. Where concentrations of HMOs are considered to have a negative effect on the amenity of a community, or where it is considered likely that such a situation may arise, planning authorities may adopt policies to manage HMO concentrations, while ensuring that a sufficient supply of HMOs is maintained. Policies must be designed to safeguard community amenity, and must not be in response to perceived concerns about the behaviour of tenants. Any planning policy to manage HMO concentrations will apply only to properties being proposed for use as a HMO for the first time after the date on which the policy takes effect.

8. Policies may establish HMO concentrations for a given building, street, neighbourhood, or other defined area, as considered necessary. Planning authorities may wish to set different concentration levels and occupancy levels for different areas, depending on factors such as demography and the type of accommodation available generally. Any concentration levels set should take account of the demand for HMOs in each area, as well as the need to protect residential amenity. Planning authorities should bear in mind the issues that are relevant in different areas and to the different characteristics of HMO occupiers when setting policies on HMO concentrations.

9. Planning authorities may provide guidance as to occupancy level(s) for individual HMOs that would be considered to be a material change of use, and above which they would normally seek a planning application. Setting occupancy rates too low may result in too few HMOs being granted planning permission or disproportionate numbers of applications; setting occupancy rates too high may undermine the effectiveness of the policy.

10. Purpose-built student accommodation should not be counted towards HMO concentration levels because these do not have the same effect on community amenity as do high concentrations of HMOs within existing housing stock.

11. Policies should be included in the development plan, preferably in the form of supplementary guidance. Planning authorities should justify the need for policies designed to manage HMO concentrations and policies should be subject to public consultation before being adopted. Planning authorities should explain why they have granted planning permission for a HMO where this is contrary to the adopted policy. This is to ensure that decisions are explained to the people they affect, are transparent and fair.


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