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Changes to Licensing of HMOs

If you are a private landlord or managing agent and let out a property as a licensable House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), that property must have a valid licence.

New legislation on the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) comes into force on 1 October 2018.

These changes extend mandatory licensing to include any HMO, occupied by 5 or more people in 2 or more households, where householders lack or share bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities, which is:

  • a building
  • a converted flat
  • purpose built flats (with up to 2 flats in the block, and any of which are occupied as a HMO

So, from 1 October 2018 there will no longer be a requirement for the property to be 3 storeys or more before it requires a licence.

For more information, view the Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 legislation and the accompanying memorandum.

HMO licensing conditions

The other important change is that, from 1st October 2018, HMO licences must include conditions to ensure that:

  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 1 person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51m²
  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 2 persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22m²
  • the floor area of any room in a HMO used as sleeping accommodation by 1 person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64m²
  • any room in a HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64m² is not used as sleeping accommodation.

Floor area with a ceiling height of less than 1.5m cannot be counted in any total floor area calculation.  A room is used as sleeping accommodation if it is normally used as a bedroom, whether or not it is also used for other purposes.

Where a breach is found to exist regarding room sizes, we will allow the landlord a reasonable period of time (not exceeding 18 months) to rectify the situation.

Additionally, a further condition will be included, ensuring that landlords of licensed HMOs comply with any relevant waste scheme relating to the storage and disposal of household waste at the HMO pending collection.

Landlords who fail to apply for a licence could:

  • receive a penalty notice from the Council of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine from the Court
  • have management control of their unlicensed property taken away
  • be ordered to repay up to 12 months rent

Please note, you must apply for a licence before a property becomes licensable. For example, currently, you must submit a complete application before putting a 5th tenant into a three storey property and, from 1st October, before you put a 5th tenant into a single or two storey property. If you already have 5 tenants in a single or two storey property and intend to keep 5 (or more) on 1st October you must submit a complete application before that date. Failure to do so is an offence, carrying the penalties outlined above.

Preparing for changes to HMO licensing

The attached frequently asked questions should help you to understand the requirements of the legislation.

If you would like any further information or would like to apply for a licence please go to our general page on HMO Licensing or contact the Environmental Health Unit on (01438 242907).