I am based in the UK and wish to purchase a house that is currently set up as an HMO (although I don't know what use class it's currently registered as - It was previously used as sheltered accommodation for the elderly.) There is now no-one living there.

Are there any legal processes or fees that I should be aware of, in order to purchase this home and use it as my family home; outside of the usual conveyancing costs? Do I need to apply for planning permission for change of use?


C3a class is a standard family/single occupancy dwelling. C4 class refers to small HMOs (of between 3 and 6 occupiers) and Sui Generis literally means “in a class of its own” and covers large HMOs of 7 or more people.

You always need planning permission to move in and out of the Sui Generis use class, so any HMO of 7 or more people needs planning permission regardless of location.

It is a Permitted Development Right to move between C3 and C4 classes and back again, so in most cases, a small HMO does not need planning permission. However, you may also need planning permission if your HMO is in the C4 class and your local authority has an Article 4 Direction.


Classes of buildings and permission required to move between:


The above is for England, the rules are different for other parts of the UK.

  • Thanks. How can I find out what the current class is on the house? Jun 22 '20 at 14:34
  • 1
    Your solicitor should be asking the vendor for details of any planning permissions obtained, and you/they can check with the local planning office. Many areas have planning documents online.
    – Owain
    Jun 22 '20 at 17:01

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