James Scollard, founder of CLIFFTONS Estate & Letting Agents explains what the Government’s latest consultation on HMO and residential property licensing reforms means for landlords.
For properties defined as ‘large HMOs’ licensing is already mandatory. According to the Government your property is defined as a large HMO if ALL THREE of the following apply:
- It is rented to five or more people who form more than one household
- It is at least three storeys high
- Tenants share bathroom and kitchen facilities
The Government plans to make the following changes through secondary legislation to increase the number of properties subject to mandatory licensing:
- Remove the storey rule so all houses with five or more people from two or more households are within the scope of the new legislation. The Department for Communities and Local Government says this will further enable local authorities to tackle poor standards, migration and the problems being seen in high risk smaller properties as the sector has grown
- Extend mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of storeys), because, as the consultation states ‘evidence shows more problems in these properties’
- Set a minimum size of 6.52sq-m in line with existing overcrowding standard (Housing Act 1985) to close loophole created by upper-tier tribunal ruling, which, again according to the consultation, is enabling some landlords to let rooms far too small for an adult to legally occupy
Other proposals included:
- Fit and proper person test – criminal record checks for landlords to obtain a licence
- Adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of household waste
Whilst these points are still only a proposal, it has been noted that they are likely to come into effect in April or October next year.
It is expected that a six month’ grace period will be offered to landlords to regularize any properties that will be affected by the changes. Penalties for landlord who aren’t compliant will be severe and could include criminal prosecutions and fines of up to £30,000.
These proposed changes are targeted at trying to weed out the bad landlords but unfortunately it will be the vast majority of the good landlords that end up with the additional bureaucratic burden.
So, be warned, sometime in 2017, if you have an HMO or if you are thinking about acquiring one you may be affected.
CLIFFTONS Independent Estate & Letting Agents are Bournemouth based dealing in all aspects of lettings, property management and the acquisition or disposal of residential property.
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Posted: 5th November 2016