Draft Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 published
New regulations relating to licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (‘HMOs’) will come into force on 1 October 2018.
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 (the Order)
This Order changes the definition of an HMO under the Housing Act 2004. When it comes into effect on 1 October 2018, the new definition of an HMO for licensing purposes will be any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households.
The current definition is a property occupied by 5 or more people, forming two or more separate households and comprises three or more storeys.
The new definition removes the requirement for the property to be over three floors and therefore many more properties may require a licence from 1 October 2018.
If you already have a licence for your HMO, then your licence will continue to be valid until the licence expires (usually 5 years from date of issue). After expiry you will need to apply for a new licence in the normal way.
If you currently rent an HMO which didn’t previously require licensing but will do after the Order comes into effect on 1 October 2018, then you will need to apply for a licence through your local council.
Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 (the Regulations) impose new duties on landlords of HMOs. The Regulations specify minimum standards in relation to the useable floor area of rooms used as sleeping accommodation, and states that occupancy numbers of rooms used as sleeping accommodation cannot exceed the numbers agreed in the licence. The minimum room sizes will be introduced by way of conditions in a mandatory or additional HMO licence and any new licence issued after 1 October 2018 must contain the conditions.
The minimum standards are:
• the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged over 10 years is not less than 6.51 square metres;
• the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by two persons aged over 10 years is not less than 10.22 square metres;
• the floor area of any room in the HMO used as sleeping accommodation by one person aged under 10 years is not less than 4.64 square metres;
• any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres is not used as sleeping accommodation.
The Regulations also require local housing authorities, when granting the first licence of an HMO on or after 1st October 2018, to allow a period of grace for compliance with conditions set out above. The local authority must notify the licence holder of the breach and give a period of time to the licence holder to stop the breach. The period specified in the notification must not exceed 18 months. (but can be less).
During this ‘grace period’,
• the local housing authority may not revoke the licence for a breach (or repeated breach) of any condition of the licence specified in the notification,
• the licence holder does not commit an offence in respect of any failure to comply with such a condition, and
• the local housing authority may not impose a financial penalty in respect of such a failure.
However, that requirement does not apply where the licence holder was convicted of an offence under section 72(2) or (3) of the 2004 Act in relation to the HMO before the licence was granted.
Lastly the Regulations specify that licences must set out conditions that require compliance with waste storage and disposal schemes provided by the local housing authority.
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Fiona has a background in information and libraries. Prior to joining Helix Law she provided information management services to legal and recruitment firms. She recently completed the Graduate Diploma of Law at the University of Brighton, winning the Thomson Reuters prize for best overall mark, and is currently studying the Legal Practice Course at the University of Law in parallel with her training contract. You can email her at [email protected]
This article is written to raise awareness of the issues it discusses and it may not be updated after it is first written, even if the law changes. It is not intended to be legal advice and cannot be relied on as such. Helix Law is not responsible or liable for any action taken or not taken as a result of this article. If you think the matters set out affect you and you wish to apply them to your particular circumstances then we are happy to give you free initial telephone advice.