HMO license expansion
Many Houses in multiple occupation are well managed and in good condition but a significant number have inadequate toilet and personal washing facilities, are overcrowded, lack sufficient space for food preparation, have severe damp problems, do not have adequate fire safety, harbour hazardous electrics and do not provide enough heating. The management standards that apply to HMOs try to prevent these issues arising. The regulations are outlined in The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006.
This year the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2018 expanded the HMO licensing to cover all properties with 5 or more tenants in more than one household. Unless occupants are closely related, if a property has 5 or more tenants, it will need an HMO Licence. It is estimated the HMO housing stock for England will increase from around 60,000 to over 200,000 properties due to this change. The government guidance for local housing authorities sates ‘Landlords of HMOs that fall under the new definition will be committing a criminal offence if they fail to apply for a licence or a temporary exemption by 1 October 2018’.
Government guidelines also explain two changes to HMO requirements for minimum sleeping room sizes. Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reform - Guidance for Local Housing Authorities says ‘The minimum sleeping room sizes to be imposed as conditions of Part 2 licences are: 6.51 m2 for one person over 10 years of age, 10.22 m2 for two persons over 10 years of age, 4.64 m2 for one child under the age of 10 years.’ Rooms smaller than these are not permitted as rooms for sleeping and communal areas can no longer be taken into consideration if the room is smaller. Property managers and licence holders can be given up to 18 months to make a room larger in order that it should comply.
The second amendment concerns waste disposal. Licence holders must provide suitable refuse storage and comply with the refuse disposal services of the relevant local authority. It is a criminal offence if this is breached.
An HMO property must have a manager who has duty of care to ensure the property meets the criteria and is maintained to a good standard. The manager’s name is on the licence which must be displayed in the property. Licences are renewed every 5 years, the current cost is around £900 per new licence and around £425 for a renewal varying between local authorities. Parties with an interest in the property must be informed the property is a licenced HMO such as mortgage companies, house insurers, tenants and letting agents.
HMO licences can be obtained through the local authority to where the property is located. Check out the council website, information is usually found under private sector housing or HMOs. This is also a good place to find your housing officer, useful web links and down load the HMO licence application form. The licence fee is payable to the local authority who have a duty to effectively implement mandatory licensing in their area.
The government website has all the regulations and guidelines for landlords and property managers in England https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/licensing-of-houses-in-multip...