Article 4 direction:

Birmingham City Council is introducing a city-wide direction for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) from 8 June 2020.

An Article 4 planning direction means that planning approval will be required for the conversion of a family house to an HMO, including small HMOs. This means that all rental accommodation of between three and six people, will now require planning approval. A present its only larger HMOs that require it in Birmigham.

The Council says it wants to be in a position to control the location and concentrations of HMOs which can then be “more comprehensively managed across the city.”

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The direction is to be supported by a proposed new planning policy set out within the Development Management in Birmingham document. This change is subject to a six-week public consultation period from 9 January 2020.

The Council says that an existing direction for this purpose is already in force in Selly Oak, Harborne and Edgbaston and “has been successful in limiting the growth of HMOs in those areas.”

Ahead of the direction coming into force, landlords are being advised to declare existing HMOs to the council. Any existing HMOs declared after that date are likely to require a retrospective planning application or a certificate of lawful use, both of which will incur a charge. New HMOs created after 8 June 2020 will require a planning application, the Council says.

Councillor Sharon Thompson, Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, says:

“Shared accommodation or houses in multiple occupation provide an important way of meeting the city’s housing needs. However, high concentrations of HMOs can have a negative impact on the character of neighbourhoods and create unbalanced communities.

“This direction will enable the council to manage the growth of HMOs across the city more effectively as any new proposals will be assessed in line with planning policies.”

When is permission required?

Further information about the city-wide direction and the process for declaring existing HMOs can be found at

(Image shows Birmingham City Hall)


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