Houses with multiple occupants (HMO’s) have incurred additional licensing rules since changes were made under the 2004 Housing Act. Under this ruling, a property over three or more stories with five or more unrelated occupants required landlords to apply for a letting license from their local authority.
However, from October, tougher enforcement of these HMO licensing rules will land in the UK after Parliament agreed a bill earlier this year. For landlords, this means that additional work is likely to be required so their properties comply with the regulations.
What do the Rulings Involve?
The new regulations alter the existing definition of an HMO. Although the occupancy rate of five persons remains, the height of the property now doesn’t apply. Another condition of the license is linked to a minimum number of disposal and storage facilities for each property.
Stipulations for the minimum size of rooms is yet to be announced officially, but previous guidelines set by Housing Minister Alok Sharma stated the following:
Rooms used for sleeping one adult cannot be smaller than 6.51m², and for two adults than 10.22m². Children under 10 years old must sleep in a room no smaller than 4.64m². Local councils will determine and enforce these regulations.
The property must also be compliant with the following criteria:-
- The standard test under section 254(2) of the Act.
- The self-contained flat test under section 254(3) of the Act, but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats.
- Or the converted building test under section 254(4) of the Act.
It’s estimated that nearly 180,000 HMOs in total will fall under the new mandatory scheme, in addition to the existing 60,000 already under compulsory licensing. A further 20,000 already under selective or additional licensing schemes will be transferred automatically at no extra cost.
If you own one of these properties, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has confirmed that the deadline to submit applications for mandatory HMO licensing will be October 1st.
Landlords should be aware that they can be faced with legal action or a civil penalty of up to £30,000 if they fail to comply with the new rulings. Local authorities can also add you to a database of rogue landlords or ban you from letting properties out in the future.
Although further guidance will be published in the build up to the October deadline, landlords should act as soon as possible to comply with the above rulings.
If you’re unsure whether your property falls under the new HMO licensing rules, the best course of action is to seek professional guidance. At Letslivehere, we can advise on this and also show how your property can become compliant with the new regulations. Please feel free to get in touch today via our contact page.