Massive changes are afoot in regard to HMO licensing, and if you’re a landlord, you need to know about and understand these as they could have a big impact on your portfolio – what’s more, failure to comply will be a criminal offence, resulting in prosecution and fines of up to £30,000. There will be no grace period, so needless to say, this is something you need to act on now.

From 1st October 2018, the licensing conditions and minimum room sizes that apply to HMOs are changing. Up to now, a property required a mandatory HMO license if the following conditions applied:

  • The property is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) – i.e. occupied by non-related individuals and where there is some sharing of facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms;
  • The property is occupied by five or more individuals; and
  • The property has three or more storeys

The scheme is now being extended to include ALL HMOs – i.e. properties occupied by five or more unrelated individuals, regardless of the number of storeys, essentially losing the third condition. There are a few exemptions, though these typically do not apply to private landlords (unless the property is in a purpose-built block comprising more than three units).

In addition, the minimum room sizes that are permitted to be let by landlords now require a usable floor area of at least:

  • 22 sqm for two adults
  • 51 sqm for a single adult
  • 64 sqm for a child under 10

This includes a minimum ceiling height of 1.5m, and the licence will have a condition stating the maximum number of individuals who can inhabit, as sleeping accommodation, each room in a property.

If you currently have an HMO licence based on the current conditions, this will remain valid until it expires, at which point you will need to apply for a new licence. If you are currently letting an HMO for which you have not previously needed a licence, but will under the new regulations, you must apply for a licence via the local council before the deadline of midnight on 30 September 2018.

As the landlord, the licence is your responsibility, though you can nominate a manager or agent to be the licence holder. If you let a property that is occupied by five or more people forming two or more households, you MUST apply for a license by midnight on 30 September 2018, or risk prosecution and penalty.

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