In October 2018, wide-reaching regulations affecting landlords of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) came into force. Here is a look at what you need to know.
What are the key changes?
Under the new regulations, the definition of an HMO is amended to make licensing mandatory for all properties occupied by two or more separate households formed by five or more people. For properties shared by seven or more people, planning consent for operating an HMO is required. The effect of these changes is that many more HMO landlords are likely to be caught by the rules, whether they own a bedsit, self-contained flat or house. An important exception is if the property is in a purpose-built block of three or more flats.
Housing officials and councils are working to ensure landlords are not caught out by the rule changes. For example, Cheltenham Borough Council has published guidance on its website.
What do I need to do now?
Firstly, it is important to check if the rules apply to a property you own and rent out. If so, you will need to apply for a licence through the relevant local authority. To obtain a licence, your property will need to meet some basic standards. These include such things as ensuring utility supplies, maintaining communal areas and providing adequate provision for waste disposal. The licence will also include specific details on how many people can occupy each room as sleeping accommodation. There is a prohibition on letting out rooms with useable floor space of less than 6.51sqm (for a single person) or 10.22sqm (for a couple).
Companies that offer professional property management Cheltenham landlords, and those located elsewhere such as https://www.completepropertygroup.co.uk/, should be aware of the rules and advise their clients accordingly.
What are the consequences of non-compliance?
Any landlord found to be in breach of the rules could face a fine of up to £3,000. A breach of HMO licence conditions could lead to prosecution or a civil penalty.
The changes brought about by the new rules are significant and the penalties are potentially severe. So, it is important to take action now if you are caught by the changes. It is equally important that if you operate a licensed HMO, you fully adhere to the licensing conditions.