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How To Get A HMO License In Leeds

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Published: 04/10/2017   Last Updated: 04/10/2017 17:02:55   Author: JG    Tags: HMO License, Leeds

Inner Leeds has an Article 4 direction which monitors and controls the use of properties as HMO’s. What this means is that if your property is within the Article 4 area and you wish to use the property as a HMO, you will have to apply for planning permission to change its use. If the property is outside of the Article 4 area, then there is no requirement to apply for a change of use.

Here is Leeds’ Article 4 area

The use class in question is a change from C3 (dwelling houses) to C4 (shared dwellings/HMO)
A common misconception is that you cannot be granted a change of use inside an article 4 area. This is incorrect but there are no guarantees on whether the planning department will accept the application for change of use.

We have written article about this which can be viewed here

Once you have established you can let your property as a HMO as far as planning is concerned, then you will need to apply for a HMO license from Leeds City Council.
To be granted a HMO license in Leeds, you will be required to meet various requirements that are set out by the council. These relate to a number of areas which are designed to properly address the suitability and safety of the property as a HMO.
The council define different categories of HMO’s so yours may be classed as either a Category A or Category B HMO, depending on how the property is to be used and who you plan to it to.
The areas that need to be addressed to meet the council’s HMO requirements include:

  • Fire safety measures
  • Heating
  • Ventilation
  • Storage space
  • Number of bathrooms
  • Washing and sanitary facilities
  • Cooking facilities
  • Room sizes
Each of these areas need to meet the specification and guidelines set by the council according to the category of the HMO you are applying for. For example the required fire safety measures may include fire doors, interlinked smoke detection, fire alarm, fire blanket, emergency lighting, and escape routes. The exact specification required may vary depending on the layout of the house.
Whilst this seems complicated at first, once you have a copy of the council’s guidelines the task becomes easier. Once you have done 1 or 2 HMO conversions they will become straight forwards.
Whilst obtaining change of use for a HMO can be challenging, obtaining a license is generally seen as being fairly straight forwards, provided you have followed the specification and guidelines of the council. If you have then there is no good reason for the council to refuse a HMO license.

Commonly asked questions:

Can I get planning for change of use in an Article 4 area? 
Yes, subject to a successful planning application, however the decision is certainly not guaranteed. Read more about this here
 
When should I apply for the HMO license? 
Generally once you know you have planning consent to use the property as a HMO, and after the conversion works have been done

Can I let the rooms before I have applied for my HMO license? 
If you have C4 planning consent, you can let the first 4 rooms without applying for the HMO license. You cannot let the 5th room until you have applied for the HMO license.

When will the HMO license by granted? 
There is no set timescale for this but Leeds City Council will often grant the HMO license within 6 months of the application being made. The license will be granted subject to a set of conditions that must be met and maintained. Surprisingly, the license is usually granted without a HMO inspector visiting the property, however an inspector will visit the property at some stage to verify the property is as described in the application.
At the time of writing and in recent previous years, the HMO team are generally under resourced and it may take them up to 5 years before they can inspect the property. Following the inspection, if they find something that is not to their satisfaction they will give a notice to rectify the issue which must be actioned. The HMO license may be revoked and possible large fines, as well as even a prison sentence may be applicable where there is a serious breach of the license conditions.

Can I let the rooms before my HMO license has been granted? 
Yes, provided you believe you have met the specification required AND you must have applied for the license before the 5th tenant moves in. We would advise obtaining receipt of application from the council before letting the 5th room.

What else do I need to know? 
The person classed as being in control of the property, or the managing agent must go on a HMO course to ensure they understand their obligations. This is currently being run by the RLA.

Dwell Leeds are the professional HMO specialists in Leeds. If you have any questions, please get in touch and one of our HMO experts can help you.