Following a recent Government consultation, it has been proposed to extend mandatory licensing to cover all relevant HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) occupied by five or more persons from two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys.

The consultation, which took place between November and December 2015, asked for views on a range of potential measures to improve standards in the HMO sector and drive out the rogue landlords who let out unsafe, overcrowded properties and exploit their tenants.

A total of 449 complete responses were received from a range of organisations and individuals across the sector, and 78% agreed that mandatory HMO licensing should no longer be restricted to properties with three or more storeys as is the case currently.

The introduction of these changes, which will now apply to houses and bungalows operating as relevant HMOs, is expected to take place within the next twelve months, and will be retrospective.

The Government also consulted on whether there should be a minimum national room size for sleeping accommodation in HMOs and 79% of respondents were in favour of this. A further 76% of respondents were in favour of this being in line with the standard set out in section 326 of the Housing Act 1985, which states that the minimum room size for sleeping accommodation should be 6.5m2 (70ft2).

While this minimum standard has been in place since 1985, this measure adds clarity to its application to HMO rooms.

In addition to the above measures, the Government is also proposing to simplify the licensing application process.

Alison Broderick, Planning Manager at Platinum Property Partners, commented: "On behalf of our 250 professional HMO landlords, we responded to the consultation broadly agreeing with the principle of improving the private rented sector, but arguing that greater enforcement powers were needed as the current licensing schemes are not adequately policed.

"There is no mention of this in the consultation response but we hope this will be included in the further consultation.

"When enacted, these new measures will increase costs for HMO landlords who will now need to obtain a licence for any new properties that meet the criteria, as well as existing ones in their portfolio.

"However, this will result in all HMO rooms being known to the local authority, making it easier to identify and drive out rogue landlords from the market, whilst legitimate and professional landlords will benefit from reduced competition.

"These proposed changes to the law will also ensure tenants have greater certainty over the quality of the accommodation they are likely to be renting and the good character of the landlord."

A further consultation is currently running which will conclude on 12th December 2016. To have your say, please click here.

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