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Limit on Houses in Multiple Occupation

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Confirmation of Article 4 direction referring to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

We are able to control the number of properties which become Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) by requiring the submission of a planning application. The areas covered by the direction include:

  • Plungington
  • Moor Park
  • Deepdale
  • Ashton, Tulketh
  • Avenham, Broadgate
  • Frenchwood and around County Hall

The direction has the effect of removing the permitted change of use from C3 (single family dwelling) to C4 (house in multiple occupation). Whilst the direction will not automatically prevent the changes of use in these areas, it will enable us to control the number of properties which become HMOs.

Why do you need to limit HMOs?

The need to control the number of properties becoming HMOs is evident to limit the impact being felt by other residents in the area. The main issues that have been highlighted on a regular basis are increased noise and disturbance, additional refuse bins and parking and traffic congestion.

For a copy of the plan of the areas for inclusion in this direction download Designated area - Plan 1 of 2 (PDF) [1MB] and Designated area - Plan 2 of 2 (PDF) [2MB] . You can also download the Defined city centre boundary (PDF) [1MB] .

Please contact the Planning Department via email at or by phone on 01772 906912 for more information.

Background information 

In October 2010, the government amended legislation to allow changes of use from single dwellings to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) to take place without the need for planning permission.

Where further control over such conversions is considered necessary, local authorities can make directions that specify an area or areas in which planning applications will be required. A high concentration of HMOs can lead to issues relating to parking, noise and disturbance, and impacts on amenity which can cause concern to local communities.

The definition of a HMO is taken from the Housing Act 2004. Section 254 refers to an entire house or flat which is occupied by two or more residents who form two or more households and share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. It does not include self-contained flats where none of the facilities are shared.

The definition of a single household is drawn from section 258 of the Housing Act and includes:

  • A single person
  • A family all related to each other
  • Couples married to each other or living together as husband and wife (or in an equivalent relationship in the case of persons of the same sex)
  • Half-relatives, step-relatives or foster children
  • Any domestic staff if they are living rent-free in accommodation provided by the person for whom they are working

A house or a HMO occupied by more than 6 residents is sui generis (uses on their own, not covered by any use class), unless all the seven or more persons form a single household. Large blocks of student accommodation are therefore sui generis.

A change of use to a sui generis class has always required planning permission and was not included in the permitted change of use and is therefore not included in the Article 4 direction.

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