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HMO Licensing – what every landlord needs to know

Strict criteria is in place for the issuing of a local authority HMO license. The process is to ensure that private rental accommodation is of a quality standard, conforms to safety regulations and is correctly managed. Operating a HMO without the correct licensing is illegal and a criminal offence. A landlord can now incur penalties of up to £30,000 or face prosecution in a magistrates court with an unlimited fine. Any rent collected (or profits made) while letting the property illegally could also be forcibly removed from the landlord and returned to the tenants.

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Order 2018

On the 1st of October 2018 The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Order 2018, comes into force (under The Housing Act 2004) and replaces the previous 2006 Licensing Order.

IMPORTANT! Under the new order, HMO mandatory licensing is now required for residential properties of ONE storey or more, which up until now was limited to a minimum of three storeys or more.

In addition, there is now a specified minimum room size for a privately let HMO, which is to be no smaller than:

  • 51 square metres for one adult
  • 22 square metres for two adults
  • 64 square metres for children aged up to 10 years.

More key points:

A room is considered for use as sleeping accommodation if it is normally used as a bedroom, whether or not it is also used for other purposes.

A room is not considered for use as sleeping accommodation if the height of the ceiling in any part of the floor area is less than 1.5 metres.

A property will also be classed as a HMO if two or more of the occupying households share one or more of the basic amenities – even if the property is not made up of self-contained flats and is treated as a main residence.

Where breaches of the Order are identified, a licence holder will be given a specified period of not more than 18 months from the date of notification to bring the property to the required standard.

Additional conditions may also require the licence holder to comply with any local authority scheme concerning the storage and disposal of household waste at the HMO prior to collection.

Operating a HMO property in breach of the Regulations or without the correct licensing can now incur penalties of up to £30,000 or prosecution in a magistrates court with an unlimited fine.

Landlords Note… Section 257 flat conversions before 1991

A section 257 HMO is a building converted into self contained flats prior to the 1991 Building Regulations, and still does not meet the required standards because the premises may have been converted without permission.

A landlord who owns or lives in a flat, as described, are subject to specific management regulations.

Don’t get caught out by new HMO licensing regulations,
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