HMO and residential property licensing reforms – update

In 2015, the government published a technical discussion paper on extending the mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO). Following the technical discussion paper the government then held a consultation in October 2016 and ended in December 2016. Our previous post on this can be read here.

In summary, the government’s proposals are designed to increase the number of properties that will be subject to mandatory licensing. They are:

  • To remove the storey rule so all houses with 5 or more people from 2 or more households are included in the scheme
  • Extend mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises (regardless of storeys)
  • Set a minimum size of 6.52sq-m for one person (or 10.23sqm for two) derived from the overcrowding standard in the Housing Act 1985. This is seeking to close a perceived issue created by an upper-tier tribunal ruling in Manchester City Council v Clark.

These proposals were expected to come into force in April 2017 however, this has now been extended to October.

We are aware that some local authorities have implemented additional and selective licensing schemes but these are independent of the above proposals. Any property that is licensed under an additional scheme will automatically be licensed under the proposals above when they come into force. A selective license is totally different and is not a HMO license so will not be effective in respect of the new proposals when they come into force.