Policy background

Oxford suffers an acute shortage of housing with family dwellings frequently being converted into shared rented properties. This shortage of housing has over time, led to an increase in shared rented properties as a cheaper way for people to both live and work in Oxford. High concentrations of HMOs can lead to an erosion of the character of areas, and as such planning controls have been introduce in Oxford in order to manage their growth.

Councils have the power, through the use of an Article 4 Direction, to introduce the requirement for planning permission. In this case an Article 4 Direction was introduced as there is a need to manage where new HMOs can be permitted in order to maintain a balance of housing types across the city.

Local HMO planning controls in Oxford

An Article 4 Direction came into force on 25 February 2012 that introduced local planning controls for HMOs in the whole Oxford City Council area.

Single family houses and flats are classified as class 'C3 dwelling-houses'.

Privately-rented HMOs with up between three to six tenants are classified as small or 'C4 Houses in Multiple Occupation'.

Planning permission is required to change the use of a C3 dwelling house to a shared rented house (C4 HMO).

Planning permission is also required to increase an HMO from six to seven or more tenants (this is because large HMOs are in their own distinct use class ‘sui generis’).

Converting an HMO to single family use does not require planning permission, but you would need to seek permission to revert the property back to HMO use in the future.

The policies and guidance consulted when determining permission can be viewed online.

Apply for planning permission

You must apply for planning permission to convert a single family house to an HMO. Visit our Apply for planning permission page for more information.

Pre-application planning advice

There are a lot of HMOs in Oxford, so getting permission is not guaranteed.

We recommend you get pre-application advice before investing or creating an HMO. Visit our Pre-application planning advice page for details.

Contact the Planning Team

Address: Oxford City Council
Town Hall
St Aldate's

Telephone: 01865 249811

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