What’s happening with Licensing Houses in Multiple Occupation?
20 September 2018 by Lawrence Adams
If you are a landlord of student accommodation or large properties, the recent amendments to the regulations for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) will have caught your attention. On 01 October 2018, ‘The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018’ comes into force and expands the complicated regime for licensing HMOs.
If you are a landlord in England and your property has five or more people living in it who form two or more ‘households’ and share at least 1 basic amenity (i.e. a kitchen, bathroom or toilet) then it is likely that your property will be in breach of the new HMO licensing rules if you have not obtained a HMO license by 01 October 2018.
At the moment, HMOs only required licensing if there were three or more ‘households’ sharing. Even then, a license was only required if the Local Authority has an additional or selective licensing scheme.
The penalties for non-compliance? There are four possible outcomes. Your Local Authority could serve a penalty notice on you which could mean a fine of up to £30,000. Alternatively, it could seek prosecution in the Magistrates Court, fines here are unlimited. If you are convicted in the Magistrates Court, it is also possible that the Court could issue a banning order. Your tenant may also apply to the First Tier Tribunal for a Rent Repayment Order of up to 12 months.
In addition to the above changes, the Local Authority will only grant a HMO license if the requirements of Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 are met. This normally means that minimum room sizes must conform as follows: 6.51m2 – Single bedroom, 10.22m2 – Twin or double bedroom, 4.64m2 – Child’s bedroom for someone aged under 10 years. A helpful guide has been developed to explain the HMO amenity standards for properties licensed in Essex.
Landlords will need to make sure that they have made an application and thought about these rules prior to 01 October 2018.
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