House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

Article 4

From 30 September 2023, if you change a property occupied by a single household, or a maximum of two people, to an HMO, you’ll need to apply for planning permission.

A family home (one household), or a property occupied by a maximum of two people, is known as Planning Use Class C3. A HMO is known as Planning Use Class C4. The legal definition of C4 is provided by section 254 of the Housing Act 2004. Converted blocks of self-contained flats are not included in the definition (section 257). 

To move from C3 to C4 will require planning permission in certain wards of Coventry. The Wards are: Cheylesmore, Earlsdon, Foleshill, Lower Stoke, Radford, St. Michael's, Sherbourne, Wainbody, Whoberley, Westwood and Upper Stoke. You can enter your property postcode here to find out which ward it’s in.

C4 means HMOs occupied by three to six people. HMOs occupied by seven or more people is known as Sui Generis and have always needed planning permission when changing from C3. You will also need planning permission if you’re moving from C4 to Sui Generis. The rules on seven-person Sui Generis Use Class apply city-wide.

Properties that were already in lawful use as HMOs with fewer than seven tenants before the direction came into effect will not need to make a planning application. However, if such a property ceases to be used as an HMO (for example, if it is rented to a single family) then a change of use planning application will need to be made to bring the property back into use as an HMO.

The Article 4 direction has no bearing on existing HMO licences, or on future HMO licences for properties that were HMOs prior to the designation. However, if we determine that a property is operating as an HMO without the benefit of the correct planning permission, we will only issue a one-year licence for that property, and will include a condition requiring that the correct permission is sought. Please note that this is not a guarantee that planning permission will be granted.

In addition, where a property is found to be operating without the correct planning permission, the Planning Enforcement team may take legal action against the owner.

The Property Licensing Team is not able to provide any further information or answer any queries about the Article 4 designation. Please direct any queries to the Planning Policy team.  For further information about how planning applications for HMOs will be assessed, please see Planning Policy’s HMO Development Plan.

Does a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) require planning permission?

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 does give permission for small HMOs without the need for further planning permission from ourselves.

  • A small HMO (C4)  is the use of a dwelling house by 3-6  unrelated residents.
  • Where more than 6 residents (individuals not a family) live together in a house planning permission will be required. This will have regard to the adopted SPG.

Housing Act 2004

You may require a licence under the Housing Act 2004 and further information is available from our Environment and Housing Enforcement Team.

Planning Enforcement

If you think a property is being used as a HMO by more than 6 unrelated residents then please contact The Planning Enforcement Team who will investigate your complaint.


We are unable to give informal advice by telephone, please refer to our planning webpages for guidance.

Address: PO Box 15
Council House
Earl Street

Telephone: 024 7683 1109