HMO room sizes – Does size really matter?

HMO room sizes – Does size really matter?

11:59 AM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago 18

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HMO room sizes - Does size really matter?After having read a lot of articles that Mark has posted, some of which are very informative, some of which make me laugh out loud and some of which make me cry (as I have been in similar situations) I find I have come across something that has stumped me completely and hope the Property118 community can help.

My local council (Ceredigion) have changed the minimun space standards for its licensable HMO/bedsits/flats. 

Our council require have imposed additional licensing.

My question is to what document they refer to when they come up with the square footage requirements?

I can’t find anything in statue law, I have trawled the government website looking for any reference documents and failed.

My thought is that somewhere there must be some sort of national standard that some experts have produced, or do our local unelected housing inspectors just make it up as they go along?

As far as I can see each different council has a different square footage they require a lounge or kitchen to be but as they are all very similar so I have a feeling that there is some central document they all refer to so any ideas what that is called and where I get a copy?

I ask as I am currently at loggerheads with them over one of self-contained bedsit flats (one room for kitchen/bed/lounge with a shower cubical) it is now 0.28m2 too small (it did comply 2 years ago) and the HMO inspector wants me to knock the two flats into one at a huge cost before they will issue a licence.

Any ideas from the very knowable community?

Eirian Rogers

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Mary Latham

12:36 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

One of the best guides to HMO amenity standards is this one produced by Coventry City Council

What might have happend to reduce your room size? Did you put in fitted wardrobes? If there is a free standing wardrobe the area counts towards the room size if it is fitted it does not - crazy but thats the way it works. If there is a chimney breast and you hollow it out this counts towards the room size - even more crazy. Some authorities measure the floor space in a kitchen while others measure include the area where cupboards are fitted.

Some landlords move the entrance door to the room an pinch space this way - the space in no use but it must be counted.

Confused - yes we all are

I hope this helps

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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

12:43 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

Is there a source document in legislation on room sizes Mary or are councils just allowed to make things up as they go along?

Surely, if they are allowed to make it up as they go along, there must be legislation allowing them to do this, otherwise a landlord could have a claim against them for loss of income?

13:27 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Mary,

I havent done anything differnt to the room, it's the same as it always has been.

What has changed is the min requirments of the conucil!

Yes Mark, I am looking for the source document that the council refer to when they come up with their guidlines.

Hopeing the someone is able to help?

I thought it might be from HHSRS but if that the case then home come each council has difrent standards?

Marie Smyth

17:14 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Eirian.

I haven't come across this problem with HMO's maybe because I was lucky that all the kitchens were big enough when I was renovating. However I think that they are taking their minimum measurements from planning officers? I had a nightmare time gaining planning for additional units, apart from planning officers changing like the weather, with each change came different view points and differing understanding of planning laws. Where it was agreed with one planning officer that I could have two studio flats at the top of the house, the next planning officer refused planning on the basis the area of each studio wasn't big enough, eventually I got planning for seven units instead of eight but it took three years from start to finish. Ask the planning officer for a visit, also pull in the fire officer as they all work in conjunction with each other however the fire officer can over rule the planning officer on safety matters etc. if you can get all the information from them, then you can decide wether to press ahead or resign yourself to their changes, if nothing else I believe it will save you time and also provide you with a workable footprint for your next HMO project. Good Luck.

Mary Latham

18:28 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

Im sorry the link I gave does not work this one does

This has a chart of the national HMO standards for room sizes

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Sally T

20:42 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Eirian,
We first licenced our property 5 years ago when it was all new and nobody really new what they were doing. We are currently renewing our licence ( under east lindsey district council) and they seem to be alot more organised now.
One of the first things our housing standards officer explained to my husband is that there are no set regulations across the country for HMO's and that each council has there own guidelines. He then handed my husband an excellent booklet they'd put together to try and make things easier for landlords trying to meet regulations, especially room sizes, facilities ect....
The main thing to note is that he said they were GUIDELINES not strict rules to be abided by and that he could act on his own disgression, wether or not a room could be rented if it didn't meet the given sizes and if there are apropriate facilites within the building.
We've always had one room that was too small to rent and due to their mistake we've been allowed to rent another room that was also deemed too small, but they've now noticed this mistake and have told us the room can't be rented As a compramise he's told us that if we knock the small room we've been renting into the kitchen to make it a lounge/kitchen we can rent the other small room out. He's also said we can rent one of our larger rooms to a couple so it was actually in our favour.
What other facilites would the person in your bedsit have use of ? Mabe you could try talking to your housing officer again.
The worst thing you can do is fall out with them as ultimately they get to make the descion.
Hope this helps 🙂

23:55 PM, 20th April 2013, About 11 years ago

These councils are bonkers.
How can you have national legislation as to HMO's and yet councils can, make it up as they go along for things like room sizes.
To have different HMO guidelines in council areas is ridiculous.
How is any LL supposed to determine whether a property could be suitable for HMO status of whether existing licenced HMO's are correctly apportioned as far as room sizes are concerned.
How does this less than joined up thinking assist the PRS provide desperately needed room type accommodation!?
I have every sympathy for the LL trying to provide these HMO properties.
It seems councils are trying to make things as awkward as possible..................WHY!!??

Marie Smyth

1:17 AM, 21st April 2013, About 11 years ago

There's an easy answer to that Paul - Money. It keeps them all in their jobs and it costs the LL time and effort and the repeat registration fee........

16:56 PM, 23rd April 2013, About 11 years ago

I think you'll find that regulations in Wales differ greatly from those in England so you really need a response from somebody who knows about Welsh regulations.

Joe Bloggs

10:17 AM, 24th April 2013, About 11 years ago

i strongly disagree that wardrobes and cupboards should be excluded when calculating room areas. i have raised the same query and this is the reply i got:
'The increased room standards applies to HMO properties and its related to whether or not communal space is provided to the tenants. Newham have used these standard when assessing HMO's properties since 2006 and we require a room standard of 8.5 sqm only when no communal space is provided to the tenants. As I have stated before in your property it appears you have a large kitchen so this could be taken into consideration and can be assessed as communal space.'
so it seems there is no legislative basis for the enhanced standard. for non hmo's or in newhams case hmo's with communal space the overcrowding provisions of the Housing Act 1985 stipulate minimum room sizes.
my other question is:
im not talking about people in a same or different sex relationship. why cant friends not in a relationship share a room if it is big enough? this isnt something i would encourage myself but im being devils advocate in response to all these restrictions!

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