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New rules to protect tenants in HMOs come into effect

Posted: 21st November 2018   In: Commercial Property

New rules designed to protect more than 800,000 people from poor living conditions in privately rented homes have now come into force.

An estimated 4 million people live in private rented homes, including at least 1.1 million who are in licensable ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs).  

All landlords who let out a property to 5 or more people – from 2 or more separate households that share facilities – must get an HMO licence from their local housing authority.

Previously, the rules only applied to properties of 3 or more storeys – but now all properties will be covered. There are currently around 60,000 licensed HMOs, but following the changes introduced on 1 October, a further 170,000 now require licences.

The new rules also specify that all bedrooms must be at least 6.5 square metres and councils must ensure tenants have suitable space to store their rubbish outside homes.

The clampdown follows several complaints about tenants living in unsatisfactory accommodation across the country.

For example, last year enforcement officers in London raided an unlicensed 3-bedroom HMO and found 35 men bedding down on mattresses in every room except the bathrooms.

The property was raided after neighbours complained about overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “Everyone renting a home has the right to expect it is maintained to a decent standard. Extending licensing to 170,000 more properties will ensure people benefit from better quality accommodation across the country.

Landlords of HMOs who fail to get a licence could face enforcement action including large fines.

Please contact Jonathan Carr for more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.