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.