A House in Multiple Occupation or HMO is a building that is occupied by more than 3 people as a main residence and who form more than one single household and share facilities like a bathroom or kitchen.
A “household” is either a single person or members of the same family who are living together. This includes people who are married or living together as married (including those in a same sex relationship). It also includes specific relatives who live together.
Under the current law, The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Order 2006 (“the 2006 Order”), a property requires a mandatory licence if it is a large HMO which is a property that:
- is occupied by five or more individuals; and
- The individuals do not form a single household; and
- has 3 storeys or more; and
- has shared facilities such as a kitchen or bathroom
The changes coming into force from 1 October 2018
From 1 October 2018, changes are being made to mandatory licensing of HMOs in England. The Licensing of House in Multiple Occupation (England) Order 2018 (“the 2018 Order”) will replace the 2006 Order and alter the definition of an HMO under the Housing Act 2004.
Under the 2018 Order, the 3 storey element of the above licencing criteria is being removed meaning that any HMO occupied by 5 or more individuals (who are not in a ‘single household’) will require a mandatory HMO Licence.
The licence must be applied for before 1 October 2018 in order to lawfully continue renting out the property (licences previously granted under the 2006 Order will continue to be valid). The licences are valid for a maximum of 5 years from grant and a licence for each property classified as an HMO must be applied for.
The 2018 Order will therefore extend the scope of the additional legal responsibilities already in place for landlords of HMOs to properties that will meet the criteria for a licence come 1 October 2018. These include:
- Ensuring proper fire safety measures are in place, including working smoke alarms;
- Annual gas safety checks;
- Checks of electrics every 5 years;
- Ensuring that the property is not overcrowded;
- Ensuring that there are enough cooking and bathroom facilities for the number of people living there;
- Ensuring communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair; and
- Ensuring there are enough rubbish disposal facilities.
It is a criminal offence to manage or have control of an HMO required to be licensed that is not so licensed. A Landlord can face an unlimited fine and ordered to repay up to 12 months’ rent for failure to have a licence.
Proposed further changes
It was suggested in proposals published in November 2015 and October 2016 that, in addition to the above, further changes were to be made to HMO licensing. These included:
- The introduction of minimum room sizes for sleeping accommodation;
- Requiring licences to specify which rooms may be used for sleeping accommodation and the number of persons who may occupy each of those rooms; and
- The introduction of a new mandatory condition in all HMO licences relating to the provision of suitable facilities for refuse and storage disposal.
These changes were not included in the 2018 Order and it is yet to be seen whether the government will introduce any further regulations regarding the previously proposed reforms.
If you are a landlord and require any advice relating to HMOs or your obligations generally please contact.