Multiple Occupancy Licensing – Government reviewing feedback on proposed reforms
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), are entire houses or flats which are let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
Current rules only require local authority (LA) licences to be sought where there are 5 people or more from 2 or more households living in a property and the property comprises of 3 or more storeys.
The Government’s proposals seek to extend the scope of mandatory licensing by:
- Eliminating the “storey rule” so that all houses with 5 people or more from 2 or more households are in the scope of mandatory licensing regardless of the number of storeys.
- Extending mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises with 5 people or more from 2 or more households (regardless of the number of storeys).
- Imposing a minimum room size of 6.52sq-m for one person and 10.23sq-m for two persons (with no distinction between adults and children) with a minimum height of 1.5 metres with local authorities being granted discretion to increase such requirements.
- Requiring local authorities to carry out criminal records checks on licence holders and property managers.
- Requiring licence holders to provide adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of normal household waste emanated from the property.
The Government’s rationale for introducing such changes is not clear other than a vaguely worded commitment to protecting the vulnerable and raising standards. The proposals have been criticised by private sector landlords’ associations who have been argued that the changes will have a series of unintended consequences including:
- Legal confusion as some of the proposals replicate powers already available to LAs e.g. as part of additional licensing schemes local authorities can implement at their discretion.
- Increased strain on already underresourced LA departments.
- Greater homelessness caused as a result of landlords evicting tenants contentedly living in rooms under the new minimum room size thresholds.
Whilst the Government’s official response to the consultation seems to have been placed on the backburner as a result of the recent political shake up, the implementation of the proposals seems more a question of “when” than “if” whilst the current administration clings to power.
Residential landlords should therefore watch this space.