Sterling Properties

More mandatory licensing on way as HMO will be redefined

Posted on Jun 23rd 2015

An announcement by David Cameron in May of a national mandatory licensing scheme for private landlords was clarified after it sent shockwaves through the industry.

The new regime will apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation or “shared housing” only.

However, the “clarification” does not clear up important points such as exactly what would constitute a HMO in future.

The clarification came from the Department of Communities and Local Government after pressure from bodies including the RLA.

The new licensing regime will extend the existing statutory licensing regime from HMOs which currently applies to properties of three or more storeys high, lived in by five individuals making up two or more households.

The Government will consult on the amendment of the definition of a mandatory licensable HMO.

However, the proposals – made in the context of clamping down on illegal immigrants – could prove crucial for landlords of smaller properties.

The proposals could be a lowering of the three storeys rule down to one, to include “beds in sheds”, and removing the “more than one household” test so that a new regime protects large numbers of one extended family living in crowded conditions.

Many properties and landlords are not currently covered by the additional licensing schemes which can be brought in locally to cover HMOs, since a number of local authorities do not operate these.

If a large tranche of properties now had to be mandatorily licensed, this raises enforcement issues, given how under-resourced most councils already are.

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