Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Development Plan Document

3. Policy Context

National Policy Context

National Planning Policy Framework

3.1 The NPPF sets out that the purpose of the planning system is to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development. One of the three overarching objectives of the NPPF requires the planning system to support strong, vibrant and healthy communities by ensuring that a sufficient number and range of homes can be provided to meet the needs of present and future generations.

3.2 Whilst there is no specific reference to HMOs within the NPPF, housing policies do aim to support the Government's objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes. This requires the Council to reflect on provision of the size, type and tenure of housing needed for different groups in the community, including for those who require affordable housing, students, families, and people who rent their homes. The Planning Practice Guidance echoes the content of the NPPF in that it does not provide specific advice on HMOs, however, it does provide guidance on planning for the housing needs of different groups.

Local Policy Context

Coventry Local Plan

3.3 The Coventry Local Plan was adopted in 2017 and policy H11 sets out the approach below (see fig 1). The HMO DPD will ultimately sit alongside the existing Local Plan complementing existing policy but adding a suite of additional policies to address detailed issues.

Figure 1: Coventry Local Plan, Policy H11

Policy H11: Homes in Multiple Occupation (HiMO's)

The development of purpose built HiMO's or the conversion of existing homes or non-residential properties to large HiMO's will not be permitted in areas where the proposals would materially harm:

a. the amenities of occupiers of nearby properties (including the provision of suitable parking provisions);

b. the appearance or character of an area;

c. local services; and

d. The amenity value and living standards of future occupants of the property, having specific regard to internal space and garden/amenity space.

Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) 2015

3.4 The SHMA assessments have shown that the housing market in Coventry is generally focused towards smaller, lower value properties relative to the wider housing market area and national trends. For example, 71% of all Coventry homes are within Council Tax bands A and B compared to Nuneaton where the figure is 60% and the national average is 44%. Likewise, just 10% of the city's existing housing stock is classified as detached. The Council is expecting this data to be comprehensively updated through the joint 2022 Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (HEDNA) later in the year. However, at present, the Council are currently planning for 24,600 additional new homes between 2011 and 2031. Any new residential schemes coming forward during this period that comprise 25 homes or 1 hectare or more will be expected to provide 25% of affordable homes.[1]

3.5 In addition to the provision of new affordable housing, the Council was advised to investigate how better use of the existing housing stock could be made to meet housing need (recognising that the Council does not own/manage stock such investigations would need to be conducted with its stock-owning, housing association partners).

3.6 There is also a clear role for policy to seek to encourage investment and improve standards within the Private Rented Sector. The Council already has an important enforcement role and should work to develop ways to improve the housing offer for households seeking private rented homes.

HMO and the Planning Use Classes Order

3.7 Planning use classes are the legal framework which determines what a particular property may be used for by its lawful occupants. The current Use Classes were last updated on 1 September 2020[2] . Uses are grouped into classes B, C, E, F and Sui Generis (of their own use class).

3.8 The Government defines a HMO[3] as:

'a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from 1 'household' (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen. It's sometimes called a 'house share'.

3.9 From a planning perspective, the Use Classes Order[4] distinguishes between 'small' HMOs of up to six people (C4 use class), and 'large' HMOs of seven of more occupants (Sui Generis. Currently, planning permission is not needed to change the use of a house to a HMO with 3-6 residents, which is known as Permitted Development (PD). The effect of any prospective Article 4 Direction covering HMOs will be that, within any designated area, planning permission would be required for all HMO proposals (small or large).

3.10 HMOs therefore currently require planning permission once they exceed six unrelated people if that change results in a material change in use. Large HMOs, formed from seven unrelated residents or more and no PD right exists to change a HMO with 7 or more residents from any use. Consequently, for the change of use of any premises to a HMO for seven or more residents, an assessment must be made as to whether a material change of use from the prior lawful use has occurred and, if it is determined that it has, then planning permission is required.

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