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Houses of multiple occupancy - changes to mandatory licensing

View profile for Chloe Parish
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Houses of multiple occupancy - changes to mandatory licensing

On 1 October 2018, new regulations relating to the housing of multiple occupancy (HMO) will come into force. For landlords, this could mean that your property could fall under the new mandatory rules and require a HMO licence.

The current position

Under the Housing Act 2004, a HMO is defined as a property which has at least three tenants living there, forming more than one household (i.e. not members of the same family). The tenants must share bathroom facilities or kitchen facilities with each other.

Certain HMOs must have a licence in place, whether this be by way of mandatory licensing or selective/additional licensing. It is the mandatory licensing rules that are to change due to the new regulations coming into force, and this will apply throughout England.

 Mandatory licensing applies to properties that are:

  • Of three or more storeys;
  • Occupied by five or more persons which form more than one household.

The new arrangements

Under the new regulations, the mandatory licensing rules are as follows:

  • Occupied by five or more persons which form more than one household.

There is no requirement for the property for be three or more storeys, meaning that many more properties will find themselves in need of a licence.

Is there a grace period?

No, all licence applications must be submitted before the order comes into force on 1 October 2018.

If a valid application is submitted by 1 October 2018, landlords will be compliant with the new scheme.

What will happen if I fail to get a HMO licence in time?

The local authority may prosecute the property owner; the landlord; the managing agent; or all, if there has been a breach and they are found to be ‘having control’ or ‘managing’ the HMO. This means that you could be guilty of a criminal offence and receive a fine of an unlimited amount. You may also be ordered to pay the court’s costs.  

Alternatively, the council may choose to issue a civil penalty, or subject you to a rent repayment order.

If you are a property owner, landlord or managing agent facing prosecution or a civil penalty, it is vital that you seek specialist advice as soon as possible. Our regulatory team at Stephensons have expertise in all areas pertaining to HMO licensing. Call us now on 01616 966 229.