“Sui generis” is a Latin term that literally translates to “of its own kind” or “unique”. In the context of UK property investing, specifically regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), the term “sui generis” is used in planning and zoning laws to categorize properties that do not fall into any standard use class.
Understanding Use Classes in the UK
In the UK, properties are categorized into different use classes under the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order. These classes define the purpose for which a property can be used without needing a planning permission for change of use. For example:
- Class C3: Dwelling houses
- Class C4: Small shared houses or HMOs (up to 6 occupants)
Sui Generis in the Context of HMOs
When an HMO exceeds a certain size, typically more than 6 occupants, it does not fit into the standard Class C4 category. Instead, it is classified as “sui generis”. This classification is significant for several reasons:
- Planning Permission: A property categorized as “sui generis” requires planning permission for change of use. If you are converting a property into a large HMO or changing its use from a smaller HMO (Class C4) to a larger one, you will need to apply for planning permission.
- Regulations and Standards: Large HMOs classified as “sui generis” are subject to stricter regulations and standards than smaller HMOs. This includes requirements for space, facilities, and safety measures, which are more rigorous due to the higher number of occupants.
- Licensing: In addition to planning permission, large HMOs require a mandatory HMO license from the local council. This license has its own set of requirements, including suitable facilities, proper management, and adherence to safety standards.
- Investment Implications: From an investment perspective, “sui generis” properties can offer both opportunities and challenges. While they can generate higher rental yields due to more tenants, they also come with greater regulatory burdens and potentially higher costs for compliance and maintenance.
- Local Policies: The application and interpretation of “sui generis” can vary by local council. Some areas may have additional requirements or restrictions on large HMOs, influenced by factors like local housing needs or community impact.
- Market Impact: The unique nature of “sui generis” properties also affects their marketability. They might appeal to a niche market of investors specializing in large HMOs but could be less attractive to general property investors due to the complex regulatory landscape.
In the realm of HMO property investing in the UK, understanding the implications of a property being classified as “sui generis” is crucial. It affects not only the regulatory and licensing requirements but also the investment strategy and potential returns. As always, it’s advisable for investors to conduct thorough research and possibly consult with legal and property experts before venturing into investments involving “sui generis” properties.