Are you still in the dark when it comes to knowing if you need a HMO licence or not for your property? It’s been almost a year since the Government published a technical discussion paper on extending the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and now we finally have an update!

The proposals intend to cover all relevant HMOs in England occupied by five or more persons from two or more households regardless of number of storeys (currently, licensing applies to properties with at least three storeys). As a result, mandatory licensing will extend to flats above and below business premises and in addition, minimum room sizes will be set to 6.5m2 (70ft2) in line with existing overcrowding standards set out in section 326 of the Housing Act 1985.

Secondary legislation is now required to introduce the changes which the government hopes to table in April 2018 ahead of full implementation in October 2018. Landlords who do not currently have or require a licence will have a six-month grace period in which to bring properties up to scratch and apply. It is not clear at present whether this will be six months from April or October.

If landlords already possess a mandatory or additional licence for a HMO, then this will be transferred on to the new scheme. If a HMO will come under the new licensing regulations, then landlords need to be aware of the standards their local authority require which can be found on the Environmental Health or Private Sector Housing pages of their websites. Not holding an HMO Licence when you are required to do so is a criminal offence.

Alison Broderick, Planning Manager at Platinum Property Partners, commented: “Any measures to improve the quality of accommodation for tenants and the private rented sector in general is welcomed.”

“It’s our recommendation that all landlords meet minimum standards regardless, and if their HMOs aren’t already licensable, then they should find out what their local authority standards are, check whether they currently comply with them and carry out any remedial work if required. If and when a licence is mandatory, they will be completely prepared.”

“Hopefully, this will result in more 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.”

For more insights into how you could build your own HMO portfolio, give one of our professional and friendly team a call on 01202 652101.