What was the old HMO definition?
A HMO was:
- a property of 3 or more storeys;
- occupied by 5 or more people;
- who are from 2 or more family units.
If your property matched the definition, you had to acquire a HMO licence.
What’s the definition now?
A HMO is now:
- a property occupied by 5 or more people (not including visitors);
- from 2 or more family units
Under the new Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 (click to see legislation)
So what’s changed?
- The 3 storeys requirement has been removed.
- For all licences granted on or after 1 October 2018, new standards apply to bedroom size. In short, 4.64m2 is the minimum size a bedroom can be. Further:
- Double bedrooms – must be at least 10.22m2 in area
- Single bedrooms – must be at least 6.51m2 in area
- Single bedrooms for children under 10 – must be at least 4.64m2 in area
- Rooms smaller than 4.64m2 must not be used as sleeping accommodation
- The number of people occupying a room cannot exceed the number of people you specify in your licence
If you do not comply with the above rules, you are breaching your licence.
Any exceptions to the new rules?
Purpose built blocks of flats comprising 3 or more units. These are called section 257 HMOs. They are excluded from the new rules.
What about current HMO licences?
- Existing HMOs – valid till their existing renewal date
- Landlords of existing properties – the Local Authority must notify the licence holder if they are breaching the new rules. Then they have 18 months to rectify the breach. Within this 18 months, the licence may not be revoked and penalties may not be imposed.
However, the Local Authority will not be so lenient if the proprietor was convicted of offences, such as having too many occupiers or failing to comply with conditions of a licence, before the licence was granted
What about properties that fit the new definition but are currently unlicensed?
Proprietors need to apply for a new licence from the council before 1st October 2018. There is no grace period.
What are the penalties for not complying with the new law?
Renting out an unlicensed HMO – unlimited fine
When did the changes take effect?
1st October 2018
Links with more info:
If you have any concerns about the changes or are considering purchasing a HMO property please contact Guest Walker and we would be happy to advise you on the matter.