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HMO: Rule Change Imminent

HMO: Rule Change Imminent

Previously. Houses in Multiple Occupation -HMO- had to have a mandatory licence when it housed five or more occupants from at least two unrelated households but only if the property had at least three storeys. Since April 2016 all large HMOs have had to be licensed with the local council, typically licences last for a maximum of five years.

From October 1st, 2018 all HMO's must be licensed if they house five or more occupants, from at least two unrelated households, irrespective of the number of storeys that the property has.

However, landlords who already have a licence under Additional or Selective Licensing Schemes, are not required to reapply for a mandatory HMO licence until their existing licence expires.

But councils can still introduce Additional Licensing Schemes for a property that falls outside the scope of the new rules. Meaning local authorities will determine whether a property meets a specific test to conclude whether it will need to be licensed. This includes: 'The Standard Test'; 'The Self-Contained Flat Test'; and 'The Converted Building Test'.

  • Standard Test:

More than one household has living accommodation and at least two households share basic amenities, or the living accommodation is lacking in basic amenities.

  • Self-Contained Flat Test:

Occupied by five or more people forming more than one household and the flat lacks basic amenities, or more than one household shares basic amenities.

  • Converted Building Test:

A building that has been converted and where one or more of the units of living accommodation is not a self-contained flat.

Purpose-built flats within a block containing three or more self-contained flats are not included. Converted blocks of flats (or Section 257 HMOs) will not require a mandatory licence, but individual flats within that building will require a licence if they meet 'The Standard Test'.

Further changes mean that rooms used for sleeping in will have to adhere to minimum room size requirements, using either the government's standards below:

-children aged 10 and under - 4.64 square metres

-one person aged 10 and over - 6.51 square metres

-two people aged 10 and over - 10.22 square metres

Or alternatively, councils can set their own minimum room size requirements higher, which may mean that they could be even tougher than the government's.

In compliance with their licence, landlords must make sure that they send the council updated gas safety certificate each year, install and maintain smoke alarms and provide all safety certificates for electrical appliances if requested and there are also conditions of the licence regarding the disposal and collection of household waste.

The cost of licensing varies due to housing being devolved to local authorities. This will likely be impacted by the number of habitable rooms or occupants there are in each property. Each individual council may also add further conditions, such as improving the standard of facilities. These conditions will be indicated upon application.

Operating without a licence, failing to comply with an Improvement or Overcrowding Notice, breaching conditions of the HMO licence, and breaching Management Regulations will be a criminal offence and can result in prosecution with an unlimited fine or a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £30,000 and a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) of up to 12 months' rental income.

Having trouble keeping track of all your paperwork? - Estates IT, supplies award winning PCHomes software to the Estate/Letting Agents industry, which manages all your documentation effortlessly. There is a specific module for tracking and maintaining licences, compliance and document information.

Book a demo for PCHomes Plus

Deb Roberts

Written by Deb Roberts

Source Estates IT Ltd

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