The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 is now published and will come into force on 1st October 2018. The Order applies to any HMO property in England. Our previous and more detailed post can be read here.
The Order changes the definition of a HMO property under the Housing Act 2004. The current definition is any property:
- occupied by 5 or more people;
- formed of 2 or more separate households; and
- comprising 3 or more storeys.
The new definition for the purposes of a HMO license will be:
- occupied by 5 or more people; and
- formed of 2 or more separate households.
- Mandatory licensing will apply to individual flats in which are multiple occupation where they are in converted buildings or in purpose-built blocks of flats where the purpose-built block has not more than 2 flats in the block and they are occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more separate households.
- Licenses will specify which rooms may be used for sleeping accommodation and the number of persons who may occupy such sleeping accommodation.
- There is also a requirement to review the mandatory licensing requirement in 2023 and every five years thereafter.
There were a range of other proposals which were included in the consultation such as minimum room sizes. These are not in the regulations but that does not mean that they will not be coming into force.
Landlords who already have a license will not need to apply for a new license until their current license expires even if that is after 1st October 2018. This will apply to existing HMO licences under a local authority additional licensing scheme as well as landlords who have a selective licence. Those who will fall within the new definition after 1st October 2018 may need to make changes to the property because of the number of people occupying the room. As such, advice should be sought sooner rather than later. There is no grace period and so if a landlord falls within the new description they will need to get a licence application in before 1 October.
This will add a lot more properties to the description of licensing. Whether local authorities will be able to cope with the additional work is questionable and it may cause them to revise the fees they are charging for licences. It is almost inevitable that some landlords will miss this altogether and they will be at risk of prosecution as well as being unable to serve s.21 notices.