New HMO Licensing for Landlords! What to do?

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Are you prepared for reforms to houses under multiple occupation (HMO) licensing.


So what are the new HMO rules in 2018?

The new HMO rules are covered by “The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018”, which can be read in full here. This was agreed by parliament on February 23rd and has come into effect across England on the 1st of October, 2018.
The main thing this Order changes is the definition of an HMO under the Housing Act 2004. The new definition of an HMO for licensing purposes will be any property occupied by five or more people, forming two or more separate households.
This is in contrast to the existing HMO definition which is a property occupied by 5 or more people, forming two or more separate households and comprises three or more storeys.


The new rules bringing a wider range of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) into the mandatory licensing regime which came into effect on 1 October.

The new licensing requirement applies to all properties that meet the following criteria:

  • is occupied by five or more persons
  • is occupied by persons living in two or more separate households
    and meets:
  • the standard test under section 254(2) of the Act
  • the self-contained flat test under section 254(3) of the Act but is not a purpose-built flat situated in a block comprising three or more self-contained flats, or
    the converted building test under section 254(4) of the Act.

We have been contacted by a number of our members who have tried to apply for licenses, but the local authority has reported not to know anything about it or simply didn’t have the systems in place to process the applications.

“Our advice to landlords who have encountered this is to apply for an HMO license using the existing process, even if the council hasn’t updated their forms.”

Will I need to apply for a HMO license?

If you already have a license for your HMO under the current “Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Order 2006” definition, then your license will continue to be valid until the license expiration date (usually 5 years from date of issue). After the expiration you will need to apply for a new license as usual.
If you currently rent an HMO which didn’t previously require licensing but will do after the new order comes into effect later in the year, then you will need to apply for a license through your local council.
You will also need to ensure you comply with your local council’s HMO licensing standards, which may involve making changes to your property to comply with minimum room sizes, amenity standards (kitchen facilities, number of bathrooms etc).


Has the new HMO rules introduced any other changes?

There has been a lot of speculation around other changes that might be introduced with this order, including things like an increase to minimum room sizes. As it stands, none of these other changes seem to be agreed upon and certainly aren’t included in this Order.
That’s not to say they won’t be introduced in the future, but at the moment the only change is the removal of the number of storeys from the HMO licensing definition.

If this changes, we will of course update you.

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