Article 4 Directions

Shared houses and flats may need planning permission in future where a local Council makes an Article 4 Direction in its area.

Existing shared houses have established use and are not affected. But you could lose the right to rent your property as a shared house or flat if you let it to a family or if it is a holiday let.

The arguments began with “Studentification” but the regulations introduced on October 1st 2010, affect all shared houses, flats and bedsits with between 3 and 6 occupiers who are not related to each other.

Article 4 directions by local councils discriminate against students and other young people wanting to rent shared houses and flats.

Normally the Council will give one year’s notice before an Article 4 Direction is effective.

The RLA believes these measures are generally the wrong legislation to deal with social problems perceived by other residents.

Action for Landlords

RESPOND to the Council’s consultation process. We have provided a standard letter template you can use, or you can use one that we have customised for each local authority, which can be found on one of the following pages. Simply click on the town that affects you to find the letter, then just make your final changes to it.

IF NECESSARY – put in for planning permission before the Article 4 Direction is effective if you want to rent to a group of sharers in future.

Article 4 Directions will:

  • Stop landlords renting shared houses/flats to families – because they will risk losing the existing rights of shared houses
  • Not change existing uses of shared houses/flats which already exist when the Article 4 Direction becomes effective. The number of shared houses won’t reduce
  • Cause the value of owner-occupied houses to fall, by up to 30% – because the market for buyers is reduced, and shared house landlords will be effectively excluded

The RLA says:

Article 4 Directions affect small HMOs (houses in multiple occupation) with 3-6 people. Just the sort of houses or flats which can be used by families OR young people.

Shared houses and flats are popular with young people because they provide affordable housing.

Young people are valuable to the local economy – they use the shops, pubs, takeaways and cafes and restaurants. Drive them away and the businesses will go too.

DON’T restrict tenancies to any specific type of tenant.

ALLOW landlords to retain the established use (C4) as shared houses/flats or (C3) for families’ inter-changeably.

DEAL with social problems of bad tenants by the proper means such as environmental health and the Police – not planning regulation.

DEAL with bad landlords by accreditation and self regulation – there are more than 60 regulations designed to do just that already. Planning is not the answer.

Are my properties affected?

We understand that in the following areas the local authority is wanting to make Article 4 direction.

By clicking on the links on these towns, we can show you the local areas involved in the notice, a link to the official notice and details on how to contact the people who can help to influence common sense.

There is a limited period in which to make a formal objection as the Council only have to allow 21 days for representations. In a number of cases this period has already expired. Even where outside the statutory objection period it is still important to let your local Council, especially local Councillor’s aware of your views.

Article 4 directions restrict permitted rights either in relation to a particular area or site, or a particular type of development anywhere in the local authority’s area. When an article 4 direction is in effect, a planning application may be require for development that would have otherwise been permitted. Where an article 4 direction is in operation relating to Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) landlords must gain planning permission before converting what was formerly a Class 3 house (a family home) to a Class 4 home (a HMO). It is up to the local authority whether they implement an article 4 direction, and existing shared houses are not affected.

At the time of writing, we are aware of the following local authorities with article 4 in place or planning to implement it –

This list should not be considered comprehensive however and you should check your own local authority website for information on whether you are affected by this. If you know of any Article 4 directions not on the list or any new consultations please contact the Local Government Officer at

A local authority wishing to bring in an article 4 direction would have to give one years notice before the direction becomes effective, alongside running a consultation. Here you can access a template letter to reply to a local authority’s consultation, but if you do have any concerns regarding a consultation don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Campaigns Team.

We at The RLA believes these measures are generally the wrong legislation to deal with social problems perceived to be related to HMOs. Article 4 directions will stop landlords renting houses to families because they risk losing the existing rights to rent it out as a shared house, not change existing uses of HMOs when the Article 4 direction becomes effective so the number of HMOs will not reduce, and limit affordable housing popular with younger people.

The areas that we believe will be affected earliest will be areas where there are pockets of HMO properties – these will usually include college and university towns, towns with large number of student nurses and areas with considerable numbers of LHA tenants.

It is therefore clear to see that the above list of towns is likely to grown rapidly.