If you’re a property investor or landlord in Leeds who’s looking to convert single properties into shared housing, your investment may fall under Article 4 Direction, which came into effect in February 2012. More than five years after Leeds City Council introduced the new measures, Article 4 Direction remains somewhat unknown among landlords and property developers in Leeds.
Priestley Lettings has created a brief guide on Article 4 Direction and what it is, how it works, and where it applies.
What Does the Article 4 Direction Do?
Simply put, Article 4 Direction has eliminated the ability to change a property from a Class C3 to a Class C4 in certain areas of Leeds. A Class C3 property, also known as a dwelling-house, is a home occupied by a family unit, while a Class C4 property, or House of Multiple Occupation (HMO), is a property occupied by unrelated people who share living spaces. This means that you cannot let out a property that is designed to be a family home as a HMO without first applying for planning permission from Leeds City Council.
Why Was the Article 4 Direction Introduced?
The goal of the Article 4 Direction is to create a better ratio of dwelling houses to HMOs in certain areas of Leeds. For example, neighbourhoods such as Headingley, Hyde Park, and Woodhouse have a significantly higher amount of HMOs due to the amount of students living there, but have very few dwelling houses. This means that families are often pushed out of neighbourhoods or wards because there is a lack of housing suited to them. By requiring landlords and developers to apply for planning permission before turning single-dwelling properties into shared housing, the Council can ensure that more single-family homes are preserved in specific wards. This creates healthier and more balanced communities in which to live and work, and reduces anti-social behaviour.
Where Does the Article 4 Direction Apply?
Article 4 Direction is applied across multiple wards in Leeds, including:
- Adel and Wharfedale
- Beeston Hill and Holbeck
- Bramley and Stanningley
- Burmantofts and Richmond Hill
- Chapel Allerton
- City and Hunslet
- Gipton and Harehills
- Hyde Park and Woodhouse
If you’re looking to invest in or develop a property in any of these wards, you will first need to apply to Leeds City Council for planning permission. Outside of the wards listed above, you won’t need to apply to change a Class C3 property to a Class C4 property.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Article 4 Direction and how it applies to landlords and property investors in Leeds.
How Do I Make an Application?
To make an application to change a property to a Class C4 in any of the wards in which the Article 4 Direction applies, visit the Leeds City Council page on planning permission and download the forms and guidance. The application is free, and you can access support from the Council through their team of development management officers.
How Long Will the Application Process Take?
It will take approximately eight weeks for the Council to review and process your application. If there are extenuating circumstances, or they have any questions, you may be contacted by the Council and asked to submit more evidence for your application.
How Does the Council Make a Decision on My Application?
The Council uses a statutory development plan, called the Leeds Unitary Development Plan (Review) 2006, to make decisions on applications to change properties from Class C3 to Class C4. This takes into account the ward in which you’re applying, the property itself, and how it factors into the plan for housing in Leeds.
What Happens if My Application is Refused?
You may have a right of appeal if the Council refuses your application; be sure to submit any additional evidence that may help your case, such as inspections or audits you have carried out. The appeal must be made within 12 months of the initial refusal. There is no fee for making an appeal within this time frame.
What Happens if I Don’t Get Planning Permission?
If you don’t get planning permission from the Council to change your property from Class C3 to Class C4, you could be found in breach of the Planning Rules. While it’s not an offence to start building or altering a property without planning permission, if the Council finds that you are causing harm to surrounding areas, they can use an enforcement notice to stop development. However, if you are not (for example, if the development work is contained within the property), you may be able to apply for retrospective planning permission.
What if I Want to Change a Property from C4 to C3?
There is no need to apply for planning permission if you want to turn a HMO into a dwelling-house. However, if you then decide to change the property class again later, you will need to make an application for permission.
Article 4 Direction – Make Sure Your Property is Compliant
The Article 4 Direction has its fair share of supporters and detractors, but its goal of creating more balanced communities in Leeds can’t be faulted. It’s not just an issue of having too many students in Headingley; it’s part of the Council’s plan to ensure that everyone living in Leeds has a safe and healthy neighbourhood to call home. If you’re thinking of turning one of your properties into a HMO in any of the wards covered by the Article 4 Direction, make sure that you’ve got permission to do so first. It’s the smart way to invest in your property in Leeds.
You can find out more about the Article 4 Direction on the Leeds City Council website, which summarises the policy and provides useful guidance.
Property Lettings in Leeds
If you’re a landlord looking to let your property in the West Yorkshire area, Priestley’s should be your first choice property agent.
As landlords ourselves, we ensure our experienced lettings management team can make letting your house, flat or bungalow fast and easy, helping with all the responsibilities of being a landlord. Our comprehensive management service means we take complete control of your rental from start to finish, giving you the hassle free experience you should come to expect.
Give our Leeds office a call on 0113 222 4537 and visit the Leeds office to speak with our branch manager, Jessica Hall, and make sure you choose the right letting agency for you.