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  • HMO & Multi-Lets

    Change of use and automatic rights

    Dear Followers,

    We're about to purchase a property in Plymouth.   We have evidence of Multi-let AST's dating back pre-article four (2012) that indicate the property was being run as a four bedroom student HMO.  Up till last year the property was still being used as a HMO however the property has since become run down and the vendor would rather sell as they do not have the funds to refurbish.

    Based on what i know if properties were being run as HMO's pre-introduction of article four then they automatically qualify for grandfather rights.  Although this property has the potential to be a five bed (previously run as a four bed with no license), does this mean change of use would be automatically granted from C3 to C4 given its multi-let history?  Or do we have to apply for planning?
    Licensing i understand is just a formality.

    We're bridging the purchase to renovate and the lender is asking for a "certificate of lawfulness" which could take over two months to obtain.  It seems this is very much a "grey area".

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    Licencing can be more 'than a formality' especially if you are changing to 5 beds - you need to speak to the HMO Officer for the local Council and ask them - If there has been no licence you are not guuaranteed one and HMO's need to be licenced now so I would be inclined to make that call sooner rather than later.

    At the very least you can get an email from the HMO Officer to say it has been licenced and they see no reason it would not be renewed - or they can tell you differently but I would be reluctant to purchase without that - Licences are to the person not the house as well so YOU need to qualify as much as the house does.

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    Hi TCC,

    Licensing is not the concern.  At worst it can be used as a four bed without a license and given all the rooms meet specification for size and that we meet our obligations there should be no reason to reject the licensing.  This in itself possess a much smaller issue then the planning issue i raise above.  Its more "change of use" that is the concern here and whether change of use is automatically granted if the property was a multi-let Pre-article 4.   Post article four you need to apply through planning for change of use.   This is what i need clarification on.   I do agree with your statement that perhaps a HMO officer can clarify but i feel this would be a planning issue question.

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    What was it used for after it was an HMO last year? If it was empty then you’re fine. If it was a single let then you’re not.

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    Hi J50,

    Its been used for nothing after.   So it was not converted back to a single let or a single residential dwelling.  It has been empty though for about six months.

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    Then as far as I know you're fine re A4. I've had the same, bought somewhere that was empty for a while, had the refurb done etc. No probs re A4.

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    sounds like it will qualify for an established use certificate as an hmo.

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    Somee lenders are happy for having ASTs that proves the established use history of HMO with certficate of lawfullness. Your solicitor can try to obtain these from the vendor's and forward them to the lender.

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