New HMO Guidelines 2018: Are You Up To Date?

The private rented sector is a huge part of the UK’s property market. With over 4.7 million households it is a sector that has seen rapid growth in the last 10 years and accounts for 20% of all households in England.

With this sector representing such an important part of the industry the government has introduced a new licensing reform to combat rogue landlords and inhospitable conditions in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Put together by the Ministry of Housing along with Communities & Local Government, this document sets out the minimum requirements for landlords to adhere to when housing multiple occupants.

New Parameters
The new reforms take effect from the 1st of October 2018 and applies to HMOs of all sizes. Previous measures only required buildings of ‘three or more storeys’ but the new regulations also include buildings with one or two storeys.

The new regulations also take into account the number of occupants stating;

“For mandatory licensing to apply, the HMO (or Flat in Multiple Occupation) must be occupied by five or more persons, from two or more separate households.”

If a property ticks both of these boxes it may be worth reading the revised property licensing reforms to avoid hefty fines. We’ve put together a brief summary of the new regulations namely ‘National Minimum Room Sizes’ and ‘Waste Disposal Provision’.

National Minimum Room Sizes
The new regulations for sleeping rooms have been brought in to combat bad practices and ensure safe and hospitable occupation. The new guidelines state sleeping rooms should be:

  • 51 m 2 for one person over 10 years of age
  • 22 m 2 for two persons over 10 years of age
  • 64 m 2 for one child under the age of 10 yearsThese standardised measurements are the absolute minimum and local councils or landlords are welcome to use their discretion when setting the optimal room sizes.

Councils understand that changes may require major reconstruction work and are willing to give landlords up to 18 months to rectify any room size issues. This time frame is all case dependent so be sure to have your property inspected accordingly and make changes as necessary.

Waste Disposal Provision
All licences issued after the 1st of October will also need to include a provision for the storage and dispose of waste (if one exists). Landlords should consult their local council’s scheme and plan accordingly.

Compliance and Contravention
Failure to comply with the minimum room sizes or correct waste management is a breach of licence and a criminal offence. Convictions can be severe with the licence holder liable to an unlimited fee. Alternatively, the local housing authority may impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 instead of prosecution.

Temporary housing arrangements, such as visitors sleeping overnight or occasional visitors, will not result in a contravention of the licence. However, where a person has moved in permanently, the landlord will need to rectify the issue as the tenant will be in breach of their tenancy. The local council will also have to investigate the situation and establish whether the landlord permitted the overcrowding, leading to a breach of occupancy in the licence.

Making sure your property is safe and habitable is in your best interest, to ensure your tenants enjoy their stay and to protect you from any legal recourse. Be sure to assess your property for fire risks to keep your premises and occupants safe. If you do now have to apply for a HMO Licence, as your premises is now within the new guidelines, an up to date Fire risk assessment will be a requirement for the council, when considering your application. At Fire Risk we offer a fire risk assessment, provided by accredited consultants. Our reports are comprehensive and will set you up for years of happy and safe tenants.