Planning controls for HMOs

Planning permission is required to create large Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs)

In planning law, HMOs are known as "small or C4 HMOs" (three to six tenants), and "large HMOs" (seven or more tenants).

Planning permission is needed to create any large HMO. This requirement applies if you are increasing the occupancy of an existing small HMO (intensification of use), or converting a single family dwelling house into a large HMO (change of use).

In Cherwell, planning permission is not generally required to change the use of a single family home into a small HMO, but may be needed depending on the extent of any other changes you are making. Converting an HMO to single family use also does not require planning permission, but you would need to seek permission to revert the property back to large HMO use in the future.

Any HMO with five or more tenants also needs an HMO licence.

Planning use classes for HMOs:

  • Single family houses and flats are classified as class 'C3 dwelling-houses'
  • ‘Small HMOs’ are privately-rented houses in multiple occupation with between three and six tenants, and are classified as ‘small’ or 'C4 Houses in Multiple Occupation’
  • ‘Large HMOs’ are defined as HMOs with seven or more tenants. Large HMOs are in their own distinct planning use class known as ‘sui generis’

Pre-application advice

HMO legislation is extremely complex and carries serious consequences if you get it wrong. We recommend you obtain our expert advice before investing or creating an HMO in Cherwell.

Get planning pre-application advice

You can also book a private sector housing advice visit.

Apply for planning permission

You can apply online for planning permission to create a large HMO.

Apply for planning permission