Planning Success – Certificate of Lawfulness for HMO’s

Something a little different for these certificate of lawfulness applications…

We’re generally contacted about unauthorised development and the need to secure a certificate of lawful development for an existing use or development (CLEUD).  However, in this case our client needed to secure confirmation that the C4 House in Multiple Occupation Use (HMO) had been implemented on a neighbouring pair of semi-detached houses (which the applicant owned), before an Article 4 Direction to prevent change of uses between Class C3 dwelling houses and Class C4 HMOs came into effect on 10th November 2021.

An Article 4 Direction can be made by a Local Planning Authority for a specific area, covering a multitude of restrictions.  Basically, an Article 4 Direction removes rights for development which otherwise would be permitted without planning permission.  In this instance stopping the change of use of a C3 residential dwelling to a C4 HMO (with to 6 people sharing accommodation).  This C3 to C4 change of use is permitted development unless restrictions are in place.

The two Certificate of Lawful Use of Development applications were submitted in October 2021 and included evidence in the form of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreements, the detailed inventories signed in late September just after the student tenants move in, bank details of the landlord showing 4 separate payment per property and also detailed floor plans and photos.

Our case was that the material change of use from Class C3 to Class C4 had occurred as permitted development before the Article 4 came into effect and, therefore, the Class C4 HMO use of each property was immune from enforcement action and hence lawful in planning terms.

The Council initially advised that both applications would be refused as no evidence of the properties being used as Class C4 HMOS for 10 years had been provided.  Later it was suggested by the Council that this 10-year evidence was required as the applications, whilst made before the date of the Article 4 Direction (10th November 2021), would actually be determined after the Article 4 Direction had come into legal effect.  This is incorrect.

Planning House arranged for the case officer to enter both properties on the 9th November 2021 to further demonstrate that the change of use of both properties from Class C3 to Class C4 as permitted development has already occurred. Planning House also successfully argued that the lawfulness of the use was a matter of the change of use occurring in September 2021 which would be permitted development rather than anything to do with the use being immune from enforcement by way of 10 years of use.  The key issue was whether the Class C4 uses had indeed commenced before the Article 4 Direction came into effect. Whether the applications were determined before or after the Article 4 Direction came into effect was not at all relevant.

Sense eventually prevailed and the certificates were issued much to the applicant’s delight!

Related Content:

As well as our set of FREE EBOOKS offering information on the basics of key town planning topics, we’ve also produced handy practical guides to help unravel the red tape of town planning.

Our Practical Guide covering the basics of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) is available.  If you are in need of further assistance with anything related to HMO planning, a town planner can provide you with the guidance you need for a smooth transition please feel free to CONTACT US to discuss your situation.

As well as a Practical Guide for HMO’s we also have one on Certificate of Lawfulness Development.