Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) faced tougher new restrictions on the standards of their let properties from the beginning of this month.
The 1st October 2018 marked the introduction of local authority licensing for any HMO let to more than five tenants, living as more than one separate household, and sharing basic facilities, such as a kitchen and bathroom and toilet.
Previously, only large HMOs higher than three storeys were subject to such licensing requirements, but this has now been extended to whatever size property you are letting on a room by room basis.
Licensing is designed to improve the general standards of accommodation in this sector of the affordable housing market – particularly with respect to the minimum floor areas of rooms used as bedrooms (which must now be at least 6.5 square metres).
Before the 1st of October 2018, some 60,000 HMOs were subject to compulsory licensing; since that date, an additional 170,000 HMOs now require landlords to apply to their local council for a licence.
Landlords in breach of these new housing regulations risk criminal prosecution by the relevant local authority or civil proceedings in the courts.
Flagrant breaches, therefore, are not only likely to result in stiff financial penalties, but may also invalidate the HMO insurance on which most landlords rely for the protection of the property or properties in which they have invested.
HMO landlords who are applying for the necessary operating licence will be given 18 months in which to ensure that their let property meets the required standards.