Monday 24 September 2018
Important changes to HMO Licensing

With effect from 1st October 2018, Mandatory licensing criteria will come into effect regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) across all local authorities in England.

There is also the addition of new Selective Licensing which will affect some, but not all local authorities.

The three key changes are as follows:

Any property occupied by at least five people forming two (or more) households who share facilities such as the kitchen or bathroom, regardless of the number of storeys, is now subject to the new HMO licensing criteria. For example, the former HMO licence only applied to properties of three or more storeys, whereas the new licence will apply to a family of four living with a friend in a bungalow.
A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:
- married or living together
- relatives or half-relatives, e.g. grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, step-parents and step-children

The following National minimum room sizes for sleeping will be introduced:
- Minimum 4.64 square metres (for one person aged under 10 years)
- Minimum 6.51 square metres (for one person aged over 10 years)
- Minimum 10.22 square meters (for two persons aged over 10 years)
Any room where the ceiling height is less than 1.5 metres cannot be used towards any minimum room size.

Included in the new HMO Licensing criteria will be the requirement to comply with the relevant local authority's scheme relating to the storage space provided for the disposal of any domestic refuse.

What if I have a local authority Selective Licence already?

If you have a current Selective Licence and the nature of the tenancy group means that your property would be included in the new HMO legislation, you will need to contact your local authority and discuss your options, such as a variation of your existing licence which meets the new HMO regulations.

What happens if I do not apply by 1st October 2018 and my property falls into the new Mandatory HMO criteria?

There will be no grace period for the new requirements and all affected landlords must have applied for a licence by 1st October 2018. All offences are open to a fine of up to £30,000.

To avoid any penalties, you must contact your local authority to start your application process (e.g. by accessing the licensing section of their website). A number of local authorities have interactive websites which allow you to enter the relevant address to verify whether you are in a Selective Licensing area.

Recent research produced by the Residential Landlords Association suggested that there will be an additional 177,000 HMOs subject to mandatory licensing as a result of the extension of the scheme.

It is recommended by many local housing authorities that you have all of the necessary supporting documents in advance of your application, including the following:

- Current gas safety certificate

- Energy Performance Certificate

- Electrical safety certificate

- Written fire risk assessment

- PAT test certificate

- Plan(s) of the property showing room sizes and number of rooms to be occupied by tenants

You must also make sure that your property is correctly insured, as many insurers differentiate between HMOs and standard buy-to-let properties. Failure to obtain the correct cover may lead to claims being rejected and policies voided.

If you would like a quote for your HMO Insurance, please contact us on 01924 871111.