In April 2010 a new use class, Class C4, was created to differentiate properties used as small HMOs from those properties used as large HMOs.  Class C4 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 covers small HMOs exclusively and to be classified as a small HMO the dwellinghouse in question may be used by not more than six residents as an HMO. Any property held to have more than six residents and used as an HMO is classified as a large HMO which is currently held under the sui generis use class.

House in Multiple Occupation

In the following High Court case, Paramaguru v London Borough of Ealing [2018] EWHC 373, it was the question for the court to decide as to whom could be considered as a “resident” for the purposes of determining whether a Property let as an HMO was held to be either a small or a large HMO.

By way of background, Mr Paramaguru appealed by way of case stated against a preliminary ruling made in the magistrates’ court that children were indeed held to be “residents” for the purposes of determining whether a house was a small or large HMO.

The lawful use of Mr Paramaguru’s property was that of a small HMO falling under class C4 however the dwelling in fact was being occupied by ten persons, made up of six adults and four young children.

As a result, an enforcement notice had been served by the local Council on Mr Paramaguru seeking that he cease use of the property as a large HMO. Mr Paramaguru failed to take any action to rectify this and was subsequently charged with breaching the enforcement notice.

As mentioned above, the magistrates ruled, as a preliminary issue, that the children were able to be held as residents for the purposes of class C4 and as a result the dwellinghouse was being used as a large HMO without the required planning consent being held.

Mr Paramaguru pleaded guilty to breaching the enforcement notice but the magistrates nonetheless stated a case on their decision to rule that children were held as residents in this circumstance and invited the High Court to determine if their preliminary ruling was correct at law.

The High Court dismissed the appeal and held that the magistrates’ ruling that children under 18 were included in the meaning of the term “resident” for class C4 purposes was correct, stating that if children under the age of 18 were held to fall outside the scope of a “resident” under class C4 it would run against the main purpose of the HMO legislation.

This ruling makes it clear that the age of a person living at an HMO property will have no bearing on whether they are held to be a resident at the Property or not. It is therefore integral for owners of properties looking to let them out as an HMO to take this into consideration and ensure that they obtain the correct planning consent suitable to their requirements prior to letting out such a Property in this manner.

For more information or advice please contact Nick Attwell on 01473 229200.