Government changed the planning categories for residential Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) in April 2010. It introduced Permitted Development Rights for smaller HMOs and allowed councils to adopt Article 4 Designations to remove this right, but it is taking a little time for the planning departments to get to grips with these changes.
Prior to April 2010 - up to six or so tenants 'living as a family' was considered to still be a Dwelling (C3) and did not need planning permission; houses let to groups living independently did not fall within a Use Class and was 'Sui Generis HMO' and needed planning permission. There was considerable confusion about whether a group lived as 'a family' or not.
In April 2010 a new use class was introduced - C4. This was for all the smaller HMOs with up to six people. The 'living as a family' criterion was removed for unrelated people. For most of the councils if a house was let to six people in April 2010 it became C4 HMO and did not need consent. However, Milton Keynes is of the view that ALL houses let to individuals prior to April 2010 were HMO Sui Generis irrespective of size and unless they have been a HMO for ten years require consent. This is only the case if the council can prove the group was not living as a family and various criteria were adopted to judge this. If you have a HMO property in Milton Keynes that is less than ten years old and you are concerned whether it became C4 - please contact me.
Note: Between April and October 2010 any new HMO whether C4 or Sui Generis needed consent.