Landlords, take note: new licensing regime for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs)19 Jul 2018
Mandatory licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) is due to come into effect from 1st October 2018. This will replace the current regime, which currently affects houses occupied by more than five people, living in two or more separate households over three storeys. A common example is student housing.
The new regime will apply to any property occupied by more than five people, living in two or more separate households. The new regime will bring smaller HMOs into the scheme and will not have a ‘minimum storeys’ requirement. Self-contained flats, where there are up to two flats in the block, will be brought into the scheme. This includes flats above or below commercial premises and flats in converted buildings. This means that if one or both flats are occupied by five or more people in two separate households, mandatory licensing will apply. Each flat will require a separate licence.
The new licence will also impose conditions relating to, amongst other things, (a) national minimum sleeping room sizes; and (b) waste disposal provision requirements.
The Government has confirmed that properties that fall into the scope of the new definition, but are already licensed under a selective or additional licensing scheme, will be transferred over to the new scheme at no cost to the landlord. However, a property that falls into the new regime will require a new licence application. Landlords who do not apply for a licence by 1st October 2018 will have committed a criminal offence and can receive a penalty notice from the local authority of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine from the court. The landlord may have to repay up to 12 months’ rent and, whilst the property is unlicensed, the landlord cannot obtain possession under section 21 Housing Act 1988 to evict tenants.
More guidance is expected as the 1 October deadline approaches, but landlords of smaller flats should be prepared to make an application under the new licensing regime.
To start the application process for a HMO licence, visit: https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence