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Changes afoot for HMO landlords in England

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HMO (House of Multiple Occupancy) landlords should be aware that changes are afoot, with a new minimum bedroom size for properties in HMO’s being introduced in England, along with further plans to clamp down on ‘rogue’ landlords and, finally, making more homes available for rent. 

The proposed changes include the introduction of a minimum bedroom size of 6.52 sq metres (around 9ft x 8ft or the size of a childrens’ playhouse) in shared properties classed as HMO’s.

The size requirement is for each person living in a property, meaning landlords cannot supply bunk beds and move two people into one room in order to evade the minimum size requirement.

Along with providing a minimum living space for renters, there have also been discussions to:

  • extend the mandatory licensing rules for HMO’s to include flats above shops and / or other commercial premises;
  • provide for the proper disposal of rubbish and decent storage;
  • tighten up the “fit and proper person” test for landlords with more stringent criminal record checks; and
  • consider whether the current licensing rules for purpose-built accommodation for students are appropriate.

With home ownership in England having fallen to its lowest level in 30 years as the gap increases between earnings and property prices, rental properties are in the spotlight more now than ever. 

According to The Guardian newspaper, the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell, has indicated the government may shift its housing focus from homeownership to pushing for increasing the number of homes available to rent.

The rise of rogue landlords

Sadly, the increase in rental property take-up has attracted some bad landlords, as two recent examples show:

18 people crammed in to 14 flats

The HMO property in London was in breach of 22 housing regulations, and had ‘rooms’ divided by plasterboard. There were no fire doors, alarms or smoke detectors and just one shared kitchen. 

It was also dangerous, as it had no ceiling lights, so rooms were lit with lamps plugged into extension chords running throughout the whole building.

Luxury room for rent or prison cell?

Earlier this month, a ‘luxury’ room in London was advertised on the website Reddit for rent at £140 per week with commentators comparing it to a prison cell.

With the proposed new legislation that will crackdown on rogue landlords, renters can hopefully look forward to more living space and increased protection.

Other HMO obligations

Of course, you have other responsibilities as a landlord of an HMO, such as licensing.

One of the other major considerations as an HMO landlord is ensuring you have the correct insurance in place.

Just as a standard home insurance policy is not suitable for landlords, a standalone landlord insurance is not suitable for HMO properties. HMO insurance is not a standard off the shelf product.

With increased potential risks and liabilities you want to make sure you have the correct insurance in place, so in the event of a claim it will pay out.  After all, insurance is only good if it gives you the cover you need.

Come and talk to us at UKInsuranceNET and one of our specialist advisers will be able discuss your own personal position and make recommendations about the most suitable HMO insurance cover.

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