Planning requirements for HMO's

An Article 4 Direction relating to houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) came into force in Portsmouth on 1 November 2011. 

The Direction means that planning permission is now required in order to change the use of a Class C3 dwelling house to a Class C4 HMO where between three and six unrelated people share a kitchen and/or a bathroom. 

Frequently asked questions about these use classes, HMOs and the changes can be found below.

There is no need to apply for planning permission for properties that were already in Class C4 use before 1 November 2011. 

  • Owners and landlords can let us know if their property that was in C4 use before 1 November 2011 by printing and completing the PDF form below.

Making us aware that your property was in C4 use before the rules changed will make enforcement action less likely in the future.

Please note that if you do register your property with us, you must provide evidence that it was in C4 use on or before 31 October 2011 and that it has been in continuous Class C4 use since this time.

Make a HMO Planning application

You can speak to us before you submit your application to receive pre-application planning advice should you wish.

Or simply submit your planning application online using the planning portal or iApply (please note: you will be required to register with the site)

Planning portal users can also view and track previous applications - visit the planning portal for full instructions and guidance, such as how to obtain site plans and upload drawings.

HMO database

Our HMO database document is made up of records of properties with planning permission for Class C4 use, sui generis HMO use and mixed C3/C4 use, records of Class C4 HMOs submitted to the council by property owners, HMOs that have been issued a licence by the council and council tax records.

However, to confirm existing lawful use of a property, do not rely on the database as evidence. Find out whether planning permission for HMO use has been granted by using our PublicAccess system or contacting us. 

Alternatively, secure your own evidence to show that the property has been in continuous Class C4 since 31 October 2011, such as copies of tenancy agreements.

What is C4 use?

A property is in class C4 use when it is occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals as their only or main residence and who share basic amenities for cooking and/or personal hygiene - Class C4 use applies regardless of the type of occupant. To be classified as an HMO, a property does not need to be converted or adapted in any way. The definition can include small bed-sits.

How are HMO planning applications decided?

Policy PCS20 of the Portsmouth Plan (The Portsmouth Plan is the principal planning policy document in the city's Local Plan) is used to determine planning applications for HMO use. How this policy will be implemented is set out in our HMO supplementary planning document (SPD) document.

For further information email us on [email protected].