The government has recently published its consultation paper entitled ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reforms’ and covers, amongst other things:
- Extending the scope of mandatory HMO licensing
- National minimum room sizes in licensed HMOs
- Impact assessment
- Fit and proper test
- Refuse disposal facilities
The governments reasoning for the proposed reforms are to raise standards in HMOs.
Extension of mandatory licensing of HMOs
The main proposed change is remove the existing “three storey” rule so that any buildings occupying five or more persons comprising two or more separate households will now be subject to mandatory licensing. The government estimate that these proposals will make around 174,000 additional HMOs subject to mandatory licensing.
National room sizes
It is proposed that only rooms that meet certain minimum room sizes can be occupied for sleeping in a licensed HMO. Any room that is let or occupied for sleeping would amount to a breach of the licence resulting in a possible financial penalty of up to £30,000.00. The prescribed room sizes are 6.52 sq m for one person and 10.23 sq m for two persons.
Local Authorities will be able to charge a fee for a licence to recover the costs of running the scheme and undertaking inspections. Landlords may also be subject to a new enhanced fit and proper person test.
Fit and proper test
It is proposed that evidence be provided as to the applicant’s criminal record status and that of any other person who it is proposed would manage the property.
Refuse disposal facilities
It is proposed that it should be a mandatory HMO licence condition that the licence holder provides adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of normal household waste emanating from the property.
This new law could have a significant impact on private rentals and all landlords need to keep an eye on changes.