From 1 October this year, there are to be significant changes to Homes of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) both in terms of which are licensable and the minimum room sizes for properties that fall into this category in England.
The Changes To Mandatory Licensing
At present a property will require a mandatory licence when:
- it is a HMO (occupied by individuals who are not related); and
- is occupied by five or more individuals; and
- has three or more storeys
It should be noted that currently all of the above criteria must be fulfilled.
In addition to the above, local authorities are in a position to designate specific areas as being subject to selective licensing (where any property that is being rented requires a licence), or additional licensing (where a HMO requires a licence regardless of the number of occupiers and/or storeys).
As of October 1st, the above mandatory licensing is to change when The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 comes into effect and replaces it’s 2006 namesake.
What Is Different?
From October the three storey element will be removed. In effect, this means that any HMO being occupied by five or more people will require an HMO licence regardless. For landlords that will fall into this criteria, in order to be legally compliant, the new license will need to be applied for before the 1 October introduction date. As an incentive, many local authorities have begun to offer dodscounted options for those applying early. It is advisable to check with your local authority whether this applies in your area.
Changes To Room Sizes
Though not set in stone, the draft regulations regarding minimum room sizes for HMOs has been published. In their current form – if passed – these will also come into effect on 1 October.
They will be introduced by way of conditions in mandatory and/or additional HMO licence and will only apply to licensed HMOs and does not apply to selective licensing.
For licences granted on or after 1 October 2018, the mandatory conditions must be attached to the licence by the local authority that requires the licence holder to:
- inform the local housing authority of any room in the HMO with floor space less than 4.64 square metres
- ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51 square metres
- ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22 square metres
- ensure that the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64 square metres
- ensure that any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not to be used as sleeping accommodation
Additional conditions will also be included in the licence whereby the licence holder must ensure that:
- where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged over 10 years only, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged over 10 years specified in the licence
- where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged under 10 years only, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged under 10 years specified in the licence
- where any room in the HMO is used as sleeping accommodation by persons aged over 10 years and persons aged under 10 years, it is not used as such by more than the maximum number of persons aged over 10 years specified in the licence and the maximum number of persons aged under 10 years so specified
It should be noted that any visitors to occupiers are not included within these numbers.
For any breaches in the conditions that the license holder has not knowingly been aware of, the local authority are to inform the license holder, who is then given up to 18 months to rectify the situation.
If You Already Have A Licensed HMO
Where a person is already occupying a room in the property and a licence has been granted for on or after 1 October, the local authority must notify the licence holder of any breach and specify a period of time for the licence holder to rectify this – again, this will be within 18 months. During this period;
- the local authority may not revoke the licence for a breach (or repeated breach) of any condition of the licence specified in the notification,
- the licence holder does not commit an offence in respect of any failure to comply with such a condition, and
- the local housing authority may not impose a financial penalty in respect of such a failure
This however, will not apply if, before the licence was granted, the licence holder was convicted of an offence in relation to the HMO.
Do you own HMO? Will your rental property now fall into HMO status? Call our HMO Mortgage Team today on 01249 474952 to review your products, or fill out the form below and we will be in touch at the time of your choosing.