Changes to houses in multiple occupation - HMO

The Government has now decided to extend the scope of mandatory HMO licensing to bring smaller HMOs within the scheme. From the 1 October 2018 the following properties will require a mandatory HMO licence:

All HMO's:

  • with five or more occupants
  • making up two or more households*
  • where occupants share basic amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities (this essentially removes the storey element)
  • purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied in the above definition

There is no grace period for the new mandatory licensing requirements. Valid applications must be received before the 1 October 2018, and failure to apply for licenses by this date is a criminal offence.

The Government has also introduced further mandatory HMO licence conditions coming into force on 1 October 2018:

  • a room with usable floor area of less than 6.51m² cannot be occupied as sleeping accommodation by any person aged 10 or over
  • where a room is to be used as sleeping accommodation by two persons, it must have a usable floor area of more than 10.22m²
  • any room with a usable floor area above 4.64m² may be occupied by a child under 10 provided the room is let or occupied in connection with another room which has a usable floor area of or in excess of 6.51m² and which is occupied by a parent or guardian of the child
  • in all cases, when calculating the usable floor area, any area where the ceiling height is less than 1.5m must be disregarded
  • require licences to specify which rooms may be used for sleeping accommodation and the number of persons who may occupy each of those rooms and
  • relating to the provision of suitable facilities for refuse and storage disposal

The private sector housing team (PSH) are also updating the HMO licence application process in line with legislation. This will mean that a HMO licence application will not be valid until PSH have received: a completed application form, all the relevant certificates, floor plans, fire risk assessment and the application fee.

If we come across a property that requires a licence but does not have one, or a valid application hasn't been received for a new licence, or the licence holder fails to submit a valid application when an existing licence has expired then this will be classed as running an unlicensed HMO, and is a criminal offence. This could result in a prosecution with an unlimited fine, a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and/or a rent repayment order. This offence could also affect the fit and proper person status of the manager or licence holder.

*Households - persons do not form a single household unless they are members of the same family or they form a prescribed relationship defined by regulations. A household refers to: families, including single people, couples and same sex couples and other relationships, such as fostering, carers and domestic staff.