England | Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (England) | Responsibilities and Liabilities (England)

Retrospective planning permission

7 Sep 2020 | 1 comment

I bought a place in Portswood, Southampton near the University early February 2012 for my son and his friends before Southampton started licensing HMO’s for student properties in Portswood, Southampton in March 2012. I contracted my son and his student friends in February before the March 2012 deadline and hoped this would avoid the HMO licensing route. As it happens because they did not move in until September 2012 I went through the process of HMO application and received the HMO license. I renewed it for my other son and I have recently renewed it for occupation for my daughter and her friends for the next 3 years. They are all now in and recently I received a letter from the council that I needed to either evidence a contracted occupation before March 2012, or submit a retrospective planning application for change of use of the house from a single family occupancy to multi household one. I thought the HMO license would have taken care of this and I am afraid my lack of knowledge in this area seems to have caught me out. It seems the HMO license by itself is not enough – is that right?

Do you have any idea on how to proceed.

Is a contracted student tenancy dated February 2012 before the March 2012 deadline sufficient ? – although they did not occupy until September. I used the time to renovate the place in readiness.

What are the risks of a retrospective planning application in this case, bearing in mind the HMO license was issued and always been in place. I do not want to risk losing the place for my daughter and her friends, who need it for the next 3 years.

Any advice is welcome


1 Comment

  1. guildy

    Physically applying for planning permission (retrospective or otherwise) isn’t a speciality of ours and we would recommend seeing if there is some advisor in the area to offer some specific planning permission advice.

    However, there are a couple of points we can mention.

    First, the licence definitely doesn’t take care of the planning other than having a licence will be good evidence of its “use” over x amount of years during any period of a licence(s).

    Planning is entirely separate from licensing. A local authority has 10 years to enforce planning so actually your date is presumably 2010 that matters and not when licensing came in.

    There are also permitted developments available which allow automatic planning for some HMOs but it sounds like your area might have an article 4 direction in place which means the permitted development doesn’t apply.

    Please see this article which has more information about your question and has some useful links at the bottom:

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