Most houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in England comprising three storeys or more and occupied by five or more people in two or more separate households are subject to mandatory licensing by local housing authorities (LHAs).
A reminder that from October 1, 2018, the scope of mandatory HMO licensing will extend to apply to HMOs occupied by five persons or more in two or more households regardless of the number of storeys. Landlords of HMOs falling within the extended description who fail to apply for a licence by October 1, will commit a criminal offence.
LHAs will also be required to include the following conditions in all HMO licences granted or renewed on or after October 1, 2018:
- A minimum size for rooms to be occupied as sleeping accommodation. There are prescribed minimum sizes but LHAs will have discretion to set their own higher standards.
- The maximum number of occupants permitted to use each room as sleeping accommodation.
- A requirement that the licence holder must comply with any LHA scheme made in respect of refuse storage and disposal at the HMO.
Subject to a limited transitional period for the first two conditions, licence holders not complying with a condition will commit a criminal offence and be liable to an unlimited fine, or a financial penalty of up to £30,000.
It is estimated that the extension of the scope of mandatory licensing will result in an additional 160,000 HMOs needing to be licensed. HMO landlords and managers would do well to consider now whether they need to take action before the October deadline.