11th March 2019
What exactly is Article 4?
In simple terms, Article 4’s were put in place a few years ago to manage the growth of HMO units in certain areas, and have been rolled out by councils across the country recently. If a proposed HMO is to be in an Article 4 designated area, then any would be HMO landlords would have to seek planning consent under Article 4 in order to be able to set up and operate a HMO in that area.
The other thing to consider however if you are planning to buy, set up or convert a property to a HMO, is whether the property needs a license.
The rules around licensing have changed since October 2018, and as a result many landlords who previously did not need a license, now dounaffected are now classed as HMO.
Am I a HMO landlord?
It seems like a silly question, but there are surprising number of landlords who are renting out licenseable HMO properties without even being aware of it. We covered the subject in our previous post here, but it’s worth re-visiting some of the facts of what we mean when we refer to a HMO.
If you are renting a property to three or more people, and at least one of those people is unrelated, then it’s likely that you have a HMO unit and many new rules will apply to you. That’s because unless all three members of a household are related or living as one family unit, they cannot be classed as one household. Confused? Let us explain in a bit more depth.
My brother’s uncle’s sister’s friend
Let’s say that you’ve rented your house out to a married couple. That couple are classed as family, and are therefore one household. You wouldn’t need a licence for that. Incidentally, if the couple were unmarried, they would still be classed as such providing they are living in the property as a couple, and not as friends.
Now, the wife has a friend who’s looking for a room. If she moves in, then she is classed as a household on her own. So therefore, you now have two separate households living under one roof, and under the HMO rules this is deemed as a HMO unit.
Changes to licensing
The BIG change however is that previously you only needed a licence if your property was three or more storeys and 5 or more people residing... That’s no longer the case. You will now need a licence even if your property is a two-storey dwelling or a self-contained flat, bedsit or bungalow. (basically the 3 storey element has been removed)
How can I check if my property needs a licence?
If you’re still unsure, you can easily check by contacting your local authority, or checking their website for information. But because some of the legislation is relatively new, always make sure that you get any verbal confirmation affirmed in writing – you don’t want to be caught out by being given the wrong information!
Once you’ve established that your property is in fact a HMO, and that you need to apply for the licence, there will be other criteria which will need to be met. HMO’s are required to comply with certain regulations, under things like fire safety, gas safety, smoke alarms fire doors and a number of other things. If you speak to your local council, they will be able to advise on the criteria you need before you apply. It’s vitally important that you ensure that all of these measures are in place, as if you fall foul to any of the required criteria, you could be facing some quite hefty fines.
Concentric Compliance Director Dawn Bennett discusses Article 4 and HMO's at a recent landlord seminar event: