New HMO rules coming into effect next month

shu-London houses-353100518A House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is a rented property housing at least five people and at least two different households (or families), sharing at least one basic amenity (toilet, personal washing facility or cooking facility) between them. In October, new legislations regarding the licensing of HMOs will come into effect.

What’s different?

There are numerous changes, all of which can be found on the official document, but for most landlords these are the differences that will require the most attention.

  1. HMO definition – Previously a building had to be at least three storeys tall to count as an HMO, however that is no longer the case. Any buildings which now fall under this new definition must obtain a license before October 1st or face committing a criminal offence when the new law is implemented.
  2. Minimum room size – There is now a minimum room size that can be used as sleeping accommodation: 6.51 square metres for one person over 10, 10.22 square metres for 2 people over 10, and 4.64 square metres for one person under 10. Any part of the room in which the ceiling height is less than 1.5 metres will not be counted towards this minimum room size. Local housing authorities are required to specify the maximum number of persons who may occupy a specific room.
  3. Waste disposal – HMO licences will include a condition that specifies compliance with the council’s storage and waste disposal scheme (if there is one), and appropriate facilities must be provided for the rubbish that HMOs generate. Note that failure to comply with this is in breach of the license and therefore a criminal offence.

Note that many of the old definitions still apply, so a building must still pass the tests detailed in section 254 and 257 of the original act in order to be classified as an HMO.

What are the punishments?

The penalties for a breach of the new license remain the same as before, an unlimited fine that depends on the offence. Note that if you already have a license issued before 01 October 2018, then you do not need to apply the new conditions until the existing license expires. Upon obtaining a license after 01 October 2018 you must comply with the new conditions of face the fine. Local housing authorities are also permitted to impose a fine of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

How we can help

As specialist landlord solicitors, we know exactly how the new laws will affect you and your tenants, and are ready and waiting to guide you through the pitfalls of complying with them. For us law changes are nothing new, and dealing with them is simply part of the service we offer.

To find out more get in touch using our Online Form, or to ask us questions directly give us a call on 0208 520 4555.

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