HMO Licensing and Article 4


A ‘small house in multiple occupation (HMO)’ is a house lived in by between three and six unrelated individuals. They share at least one basic amenity, e.g., kitchen, bathroom, or toilet. It does not require planning consent unless there is an Article 4 in place.

An Article 4 restricts permitted development rights and is usually adopted where councils want to restrict the development of new co-living/HMO properties for reasons such as over-supply and retention of family homes.

The government has recently introduced mandatory licensing for houses and flats that are occupied by five or more persons, and form two or more separate households. The government has also established minimum sizes for bedrooms, which now need to be a minimum of 6.52 metres squared for one person over ten years of age.

Acol properties typically accommodate four people and do not fall within the government’s mandatory licensing requirements.

However, some councils require a property to be licensed if it is rented by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (e.g., a family), but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

Some councils have also adopted ‘selective licensing’ for specific streets where they want to control standards of accommodation. The application process is straightforward, and the conditions imposed are not onerous, and do not adversely affect the letting and management of the properties.


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