Many landlords make a very good living out of investing inhouses of multiple occupation (HMO), with the benefits of them including the fact that there are several individual rental income streams at any given time, which can help to cover any gaps when someone has moved out and the new occupant has yet to move in.
However, anyone considering such a move in Nottingham needs to make sure they are compliant with all the rules and regulations that apply.
A reminder if this was reported this week in the Nottingham Post, which revealed that a director has appeared in court on charges thatfour companies of his rented out HMOs without having first obtained the correctlicenses.
Article 4 planning and guidance
Article 4 Directions remove the right to carry out certain types of 'permitted development'. If you want to do work that is covered by an Article 4 Direction you will first need to apply for planning permission. Within the city there are two main types of Article 4 Direction:
- 'House in Multiple Occupation'(HMO)
- Directions restricting work to specific properties
Houses with multiple occupation
Article 4 Direction means that you need to obtain planning permission to convert a family dwelling to an HMO with between 3 and 6 unrelated people sharing in the Nottingham area. Planning permission is already required for properties shared by 7 or more unrelated people.
It is highly unlikely that you will be granted planning permission for a change of use from C3 (family) to C4 or Sui Generis (HMO) in Nottingham.
If you apply for a HMO licence and the property has changed use from C3 (family) to C4 or Sui Generis (HMO) without planning permission, you may be granted a licence for only 12 months. This period will allow you the opportunity to put the planning affairs of your property in order by applying for Change of Use permission. Again, planning permission is highly unlikely to be granted. The full HMO licence fee will be payable and is non-refundable if only a 12-month licence is granted.
If you’re granted permission or win an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, we’ll vary the HMO licence to expire in 5 years after the duly made date of the original HMO licence application. If you’re refused permission or lose your appeal, the licence will be allowed to expire and you must take steps to ensure the property does not require a HMO licence. During this time it may be necessary to apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice whilst winding down the HMO business.
If you request to vary the licence when you’ve not applied for planning permission during those 12 months, planning permission has been refused, or your appeal to the Planning Inspectorate has been unsuccessful, we’ll generally refuse to vary the licence and allow it to expire at the 12 month mark. If you apply for a HMO licence after Planning Permission has been refused already, or all avenues of appeal have been exhausted, we’ll generally refuse the application outright; a 12 month licence will not be granted. The full HMO licence fee will be payable and is non-refundable if a licence is refused.
The director denied the charges on behalf of all fourcompanies and the case will now be heard at Nottingham Magistrate’s Court inJune. If he is found guilty, he could face unlimited fines.
Licensing is important because it means landlords must showthey have taken all the necessary steps to convert a property correctly andensure they are compliant with health and safety rules and other obligations.
These include making sure the house is suitable for the number of occupants, installing and maintaining smoke alarms, providing anupdated gas certificate each year and producing electrical safety certificates when needed. This means any conversion work must sit with these requirements.
However, for prospective Nottingham landlords planning applications arealso critical, as having the right planning permission to carry out aconversion can ensure that the work done is legally compliant with HMO licensing rules and various other rules, such as meeting the minimum Energy Performance Certificate standards.
Being legally compliant can often require landlords to meetother regulations as well. For instance,any plans for a conversion could be constrained by the status of a district asa conservation area, or because a building is listed.