The Government have a new set of rules for landlords with respect to houses of multiple occupation. These have been in place as of the 1st of October 2018. The new rules work alongside further legislation from the last five years. Put in place by the Government. The letting Industry has had to deal with two lots of legislation every year for the last five years.
Does this affect you?
If your property has five or more occupants from two or more separate households then yes, depending on the following. If the property is either a converted building with living accommodation or self-contained flat this will affect you. However, if you have a purpose built flat you are lucky because it doesn’t apply.
This then takes over from previous legislation. It also takes away the three storey rule which no longer applies. If you have a property you will now need to apply for a mandatory HMO licence from the 1st of October. Not only are there heavy fines for anyone renting these premises out without a licence. It is also more than likely that any local authority will refuse in future to give you a licence to rent it out.
However, there are more new rules!
The minimum bedroom space will be 6.51 sq metres for a single bedroom. For rooms occupied by two adults the size required is at least 10.22 sq metres. Rooms housing children 10 or below need to be at least 4.64 sq metres.
What else do Landlords have to do?
Well, the list isn’t endless. It does depend on your local authority. There are items such as having adequate bins for the property.
A house in multiple occupation is a property rented out by at least 3 people who are not from one household. Ie not a family. They share a facility like a bathroom and kitchen and it is sometimes often called a house share.
If you want to rent out a property as a house in multiple occupation in England or Wales you must contact your local council and see if you need a license.
You must have a license if you are renting out a large HMO in England. Your property is defined as a large HMO if all the following applies;
- It is rented to 5 or more people who form more than one household.
- Some or all tenants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facility.
- At least one tenant pays the rent.
Even if your property is smaller and rented to fewer people you may still need a license depending on the area. You should always check with your local authority because every council can be different.
A license is normally valid for a period of 5 years. You must renew it when it runs out.
You will need a separate license for each HMO you run.
You must make sure the following;
- The house is suitable for a number of occupants (this depends on its size and facilities.
- The manager of the house, or you or your agent, is considered to be fit and proper person ie they must have no criminal record or breach of landlord laws or code of practise.
You must also;
- Send the council an updated gas safety every year.
- Install and maintain smoke alarms.
- Provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested.
However, these can often change. There are now certain standards that are national. However, each council has their own individual rules.
You as a landlord has legal responsibilities if your home is rented out a multiple occupation known as HMO. The rules are there to reduce the risk of fire and to make sure that people living in shared houses or flats have adequate facilities.
Responsibility of HMO landlords.
Landlords of HMO where 5 or more people live must make sure that;
- There are enough rubbish bins.
- The property is not over crowed.
- The electrics are checked every 5 years.
- Annual gas safety checks are carried out.
- Communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair.
- Property fire safety measurements are in place such as working smoke alarms.
- There are enough cooking and bathroom facilities.
You should be aware that there are new fire regulations coming into place on the 1st October 2022 for smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.
For instance, you walk into your HMO front door and there is a set of stairs. There needs to be a smoke detector at the bottom of the stairs. You walk to the top of the stairs where the actual flat/house begins and once you are at the top of the stairs even though there is no door there you need another smoke detector.
These rules are forever changing.
For instance you now need a carbon monoxide detector near any form of gas appliance even an enclosed boiler.
How do I know if my house is a HMO?
It is probably a HMO if 3 or more unrelated people live there and…
- At least two separate households.
- Living areas, kitchens or bathrooms are shared.
- A shared house or flat where sharers are not members of the same family.
- A bed and breakfast hotel that is not just for holidays.
- A house split into separate bedsits.
- A hostel.
Shared accommodation with students can also be HMO’s.
What are the responsibilities for repairs of HMO’s?
You as a landlord as responsible for;
- Electrical wiring
- Water and gas pipes
- Basins, sinks, baths and toilets
- Fixed heaters (radiators) and water heaters
The structure and exterior of the house, including the walls, window frames and gutters. You are also responsible for maintaining the communal areas if you have individual agreements for certain rooms.
Houses in multiple occupation license for shared homes
You must get a license from the local authority if both are true;
- There are 5 or more unrelated people living in a shared house.
- There are 2 or more separate households.
However, some council also require HMO’s to be licensed they have less accommodation. You should check with your local authority.
You also need to understand that you may require planning because some councils now include this.
There are minimum bed sizes for licensed houses in multiple occupation.
These can change but are mainly after the 1st October as follows;
- 15 square metres for a person over 10 years.
- 22 square metres for two people over 10 years.
- 64 square metres for a child under 10 years.
Some council mays set higher standards for bedroom sizes but you should always check.
Minimum Electrical Requirements.
Our advice would be to talk to the local authority to find out the requirements. Most authorities have also included their own selective licencing. This means that they can pick areas where they enforce certain properties to have certain minimum requirements. Then, of course, there is the dreaded fee! Is this just another stealth tax? Fees can range dramatically from £400.00 upwards.
Landlords of existing properties will be given up to 18 months to make the required changes when reapplying for a licence. Check with your local authority before doing so.
When will the Government stop introducing more and more legislation on landlords? Are these good provisions for tenants? Are they out there to reduce overcrowding? Will, it put landlords off in the future letting out properties to multiple tenants?
For landlords, it is important to ensure that your property has a licence. In the event that it doesn’t and there was an incident you may not be able to claim. Our advice is to speak to your local authority and find out what’s required.
Our sister company Harringtons Lettings have written an article on Mandatory HMO licencing across the Country, click here to read.
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