Townhouse conversion to flats; HMO?

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    Townhouse conversion to flats; HMO?

    I have a 4 storey townhouse and am considering altering it to accommodate 5 or 6 bedsits each with their own ensuite shower facilities but shared kitchen/dining area). What are the implications and complications as regards Local Authorities legislation on the following
    1/ HMO registration and consequences (ie. Fire Safety, facilities,etc)
    2/ Will I require planning permission if there is no change to outside of property but some internal alterations. i.e. change in layout of partition walls, addition of shower rooms and conversion of some living rooms to bedrooms

    1) will depend need more information on how you plan to rent it, will probably become a HMO so require more work, but you cant tell what is required without seeing the property. The only people that can honestly answer your question is the local Council, who have the power over HMO's

    2)Probably not, just requires building control approval, but there are situations where planning permission may be required. So take expert advice again by someone who has seen the property.



      If you are changing the use of the property from single to multiple occupancy you will need Planning Permission.
      Building control approval too if you are making internal changes such as adding bathrooms/kitchens etc.

      You will need a fire alarm/detection system, fire doors and emergency lighting.

      Later on in the year your property, if converted, will also be subject to Mandatory licensing (by the local authority).

      Amenity standard differ between councils - but in my authority you would be expected to provide 1 kitchen and bathroom (not more than one floor distant) for every 3 occupants if they didn't know one another and for every 5 occupants if they did.

      As cnrsoper says you need to contact your local council.
      Whilst I hope you find the contents of this posting interesting and informative, the contents are without prejudice or liability and are for general information purposes only


        If its a normal town house at present then building control approval will be applicable, they will ask for fire detection system, emergency lighting, facilities that are relevant for 5/6 bedsits. Four storey is classed as a very high risk so you maybe falling into the realms of an external fire escape as well.

        Because you are intending to have a 'material change of use' of the building then yes you will need planning permission.


          HMO regulations

          Please contact the person responsible for the HMO regulations in your local council (either planning or housing dept, depends on the council) as they also have height restrictions in place (all rooms must be 2.3 m in height), which are not part of building or planning regs. Also, be aware of the registration fee (£30 per habitable room - bathrooms & kitchens are not habitable rooms - so could be quite expensive!). Paula


            I am not too sure on the rules, but I belive there may not be a requirment for planning permission for some small sized HMO's. I also belive it is far from certain it will be a HMO in leagl terms, which differ depending on where you are.



              Thank you for rplies to my question. Rathet conflicting / confusing response from different council offices.One told me I would need planning if it was bedsits with lockable doors and shared kitchen/dining area. Another told me under some Town and Planning Act that as long as number of people sharing was no more than 6 and living as a single household, would not necessarily need planning consent. Any learned opinion on this would be welcome. Also the Private Housing people (HMO team) say they think it will be an HMO , needing Mandatory Legislation later this year based on some new Housing Bill.
              I read somewhere apart from stringent Fire Regs that the furtherest a user can be away from kitchen is 1 floor. This would probably be insurmountable problem in this house if they enforce it . I don't mind the costs too much but this is a worry. Anyone help me out here from experiences or knowledge


                the 1 floor away rule is regarding bathrooms, not kitchens, as far as I know.

                the test is are they living as a single household... that is the test used in England to determine if it is a HMO


                  HMO guidance

                  Council's may have their own standards - based on the guidance contained in DOE circular 12/92. The circular describes 'adequate numbers' and 'suitabley located' for WC's, bathrooms, kitchen facilities etc.
                  The larger authorties often have their own set of published standards - based on the guidance.

                  The question of the size of the group and sharing of facilities not always a simple matter and the authority I work for has a list of 24 questions to help determine whether an HMO or not - it is not usually necessary to use this determination - it is usually obvious whether it is an HMO or not - but the case law sometimes causes complications.

                  The new legislation and HMO definition will largely negate any debate (until new case law arises) so for your purposes I think it would be prudent to consider it an HMO.
                  Whilst I hope you find the contents of this posting interesting and informative, the contents are without prejudice or liability and are for general information purposes only


                    Wc or washbasins shouldn’t be more than on floor vertically or 30 metres horizontally from the unit (flat, bedsit).

                    A similar rule applies to kitchens under the fitness standard and satisfactory facilities for cooking, storage and preparation, etc, as a background note authorities have to take into account certain layouts and one is that no kitchen can be more than one floor from the unit, shared kitchens by members of more than one household will usually increase the risk of accidents, the risk is then greatly increased if it is necessary to carry food from the kitchen to a different floor usually via the communal staircase. This can be overcome if you provide a separate dining room next to the kitchen.

                    What you have to understand is that the different departments, planning, building control and housing deal with different legislation when dealing with HMO’s, planning is Town and Planning act, building Control have the Building Regulations and Housing have the Housing Act and each has a slightly different twist to what is and isn’t required for this type of property. I would think that housing currently have the stricter standards as they have to take into account the fitness for the number of occupants, fitness for human habitation, management regulations and at the same time considering the building standards as well. I know we enforce a much higher standard with regards fire precaution works than our building control department do.

                    Don’t know where Paula got the 2.3 height of a room from perhaps it is a building control standard? But for existing HMO’s converted pre 1991, there isn’t a standard for room heights all facilities, room sizes are calculated by floor area only. It would be up to the discretionary powers of an officer to consider any room heights and what is and isn’t acceptable.

                    There is that much legislation to do with HMO’s and what is and what isn’t a HMO the new Housing Act 2004, section 254, should help clarify exactly what is classed as a HMO. Of course there isn’t any case law on this yet so some of the descriptions haven’t been challenged. I cant see what the point of the authority suggesting mandatory licensing later this year to you as I take it you need to know about current legislation.

                    No sooner typed this and Patios has alreday posted One of the reasons other authorities have different standards is that they have taken the DOE 'guidance on standards' and started to come away from the exact wording set out in DOE 12/92, which was never intended to binding in all circumstances.


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