The private rental sector was a major focal point of the Prime Ministers speech in May 2016, with pledges to crack down on “rogue landlords exploiting tenants and cramming properties with immigrants.”
The government and local housing authorities across the country believe that one of the best ways to achieve this goal is to extend the types of properties covered by the mandatory licensing schemes for Houses of Multiple Occupancies (“HMOs”). Following consultation, the government has decided to implement some significant changes.
At the moment, HMO licences are currently only required for properties of three or more storeys occupied by 5 or more people from more than one family. However, changes to be implemented include:
The requirement for three or more storeys will be removed from the condition. This means that any property occupied by 5 or more people from more than one family will require a licence. This applies to all tenancies, not just assured shorthold tenancies.
Flats both above and below business premises will be included.
All sleeping accommodation within an HMO must be at least 6.5 square metres.
Other possible additional requirements:
The declaration of any criminal convictions the landlord may have so the local housing authority can assess whether or not they are fit and proper as required within the HMO conditions.
Requirements for suitable and adequate refuse systems to be in place within the property.
When will the new rules come into force?
The exact date for implementation is currently unclear but by the end of 2016 does seem extremely viable.
The aim behind the extension of the HMO requirements is to protect the most vulnerable tenants from overcrowding and uninhabitable conditions and also to level the playing field for responsible landlords; it is hoped these changes will prevent responsible landlords from being undercut by rogue landlords who cut health and safety corners in order to charge cheap rental prices.
Many housing charities feel that these additional requirements are long overdue and that it is important for the law to capture all HMO housing to ensure that every occupant has access to safe and affordable housing.
However it is possible that these changes may have the opposite effect. A great deal of HMO housing is occupied by people who require more affordable housing. Licensing applications cost money as does the renovation of properties which do not meet the stringent requirements of the licensing conditions.These costs may be passed onto the occupant via increased rent or service charges which, will then in turn make HMO housing less affordable and may leave these vulnerable people open to the mercy of rogue landlords.
Are you the landlord of a currently unlicensed HMO that will require a license under the new rules?
If you need any advice regarding the new conditions, or the application process, or if you require assistance appealing any licensing decision, do not hesitate to contact us on 01302 320621 or email email@example.com.