What is an Article 4 Direction (A4D)? Well, if you’re a HMO landlord in England looking to expand your portfolio, it’s something that you will need to understand – and what it could mean for your future investments.
HMO landlords are always keen to invest in properties in popular, thriving cities, but these are the very areas where you may encounter an Article 4 Direction, and that could potentially turn a lucrative proposition into an unattractive investment.
Here, we take a closer look at this General Permitted Development Order direction so that you can be well-informed about the potential impact on your future investment purchases.
What is Article 4?
The Town & Country Planning Department’s Article 4 definition explains that the Article 4 Direction allows either local planning authorities or the Secretary of State to withdraw certain permitted development rights in a specific area.
Essentially, this means that they can decide whether to allow a property’s use classification to be changed to a different one, and this could become a problem if you’re interested in converting a property that is currently classed as a single dwelling (a C3 class property) into a HMO (a C4 class property).
In an Article 4 area, you are not permitted to change the use class of the property without first asking your council and, of course, you cannot guarantee your application will succeed. That’s why buying a property in an Article 4 area could be a risky investment and requires due diligence by an experienced HMO management company.
How Do I Check For An Article 4 Area?
If you’re interested to grow your HMO portfolio in England, you need to carry out an Article 4 assessment in the specific area you’re considering investing in. You can research local authority Article 4 areas online as most councils will have a red “Article 4 Map” on their website showing the boroughs and streets that are within the article’s restrictions.
You can then decide which parts of the city are off limits for you if you’re keen to avoid any potential issues. In some cities, however, you’ll find that all the best HMO development areas are included within Article 4.
Here are our best tips to maximise your chance of making a planning application that will be a success.
- Prove an Attempted Sale
Councils need to have proof that any property that you wish to convert into a HMO has been on the market as a family home for a minimum of 6 months with no successful sale. Finding this proof will add weight to any planning application you submit.
Look for HMO Comparisons in England
If you’re going to convert a single dwelling into a HMO, look for a developer who has already attempted to achieve the same goal in the same area. Planning records can be accessed on your local authority website, so you can find out whether previous applications have been accepted or rejected. If applications have been rejected in the past, you will know exactly what you are up against.
Purchase a Property That’s Already a HMO
One of the best strategies in Article 4 areas is to purchase a property that is already converted to a HMO, as no change of class will be required. You will, however, need to change its HMO licence into your name. You’ll need to obtain documentation from the existing landlord to show the property is currently a HMO including planning applications, utility bills, and tenancy agreements, as this will be crucial in making your application.
Check Out the HMO Density In England.
Councils have an “HMO Density Threshold” that requires them to maintain the total percentage of HMO properties in certain areas under a specific figure. Most local authorities will publish a list outlining HMO density for various streets within the local area. Checking this list is important since councils are likely to reject any application within 50 metres of a property where the HMO density is over this figure. As all councils have their own threshold, you should take the time to check before you invest. Bear in mind, too, that if a property attached to your intended HMO is also a HMO your application is more likely to be rejected.
If you are ready to expand your HMO portfolio in the England area, or are just starting out as a HMO landlord, you will benefit from using a reliable team of specialist HMO property managers.
Here at The HMO Network, we’re leading the way in the England HMO property market, helping landlords like you to find trustworthy tenants and keeping your property running efficiently. Get in touch with us today on 01245 835859 to find out how we can help with HMO property management in England.