The government is consulting on changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing which will bring more properties and landlords inside the scope of the law – and adding more penalties for landlords without a license.
In 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government published a technical discussion paper for consultation on extensions to the licensing of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupancy) in England. They are trying to tighten up on HMOs by bringing more rental properties within the scope of the licensing requirements.
Some of the planned changes include:
- Removing the rule about the number of stories for the building; this would mean that all houses with five or more people from two or more households come under the scheme.
- Including flats that are either above or below a business premises, no matter how many stories the building has.
- Setting a minimum standard for the space per person, based on the overcrowding standard in the Housing Act 1985. The minimum space will be 6.25 sq-m for one person or 10.23 sq-m for two people. Visitors don’t count, but children are treated as adults.
The government is also consulting on issues such as whether criminal record checks on the landlord be made mandatory in order to gain a licence, and if so, which body should they be made through; and whether there should be ‘adequate receptacles for the storage and processing of waste’.
The expected timescale for implementation following consultation was April 2017, though this has now been extended to October 2017 while the government processes responses.
It is expected that when it does come into force there will be a 6 month grace period for landlords who currently don’t have a licence, allowing them to apply for one. It’s important not to ignore this – buy-to-let home owners and landlords who don’t comply could face criminal prosecution and civil penalties up to £30,000.
The government say they are trying to build a country where everyone has a safe and secure home, and that they want to drive rogue landlords of business.
Of course, changes that improve living conditions should be welcomed by all. On the other hand, there is the potential for this to lead to a reduction in the amount of shared housing available on the market, putting more pressure on the rental sector.
How can we help?
We provide help and advice for landlords, and support them in their licensing applications. If you are a landlord, whether you have properties that need an HMO licence or not, why not get expert advice from us to make sure you are completely compliant with all required legislation.
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