Laws on overcrowding in rental properties

Laws on overcrowding in rental properties

8:27 AM, 20th March 2019, About 4 years ago 5

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Alexandra Morris, Managing Director of MakeUrMove, shares details on what landlords need to know on the laws of overcrowding in rental properties.  At the end of 2018, the government introduced details of the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act, which is to replace the Landlord and Tenant Act.  Set to be introduced on the 20th March 2019, the purpose of the act is to ensure that all rental properties are fit for habitation by tenants.

One aspect of a property being fit for habitation includes the issue of overcrowding. Here’s what you need to know about the laws and how you can prevent yourself from being fined.

How to tell if your property is overcrowded 

If you currently let your property out to tenants, but are concerned it might be overcrowded, there are two ways you can tell.

One is through the ‘room standard’. If you have two people of the opposite sex that have to sleep in the same room, then your property is classed as overcrowded.

There are two exceptions to this rule though – if the two people are a couple, or if they are children aged under 10.

The other method is called the ‘space standard’, which can be calculated in two ways. This is either through the number of rooms or the floor space of each room.

If you base it on the number of rooms your property has, the maximum number of people is as follows:

1 room = 2 people (max)

2 rooms = 3 people (max)

3 rooms = 5 people (max)

4 rooms = 7.5 people (max)

5 rooms = 10 people (max)

You should only count bedrooms and living rooms within the rooms.

To check for overcrowding based on floor space you need to measure the size of each room that is used as a bedroom or living room.

If a room has a floor area of between 50-69 square feet, then it is not fit for adults. If it’s between 70-89, it’s for one person only, 90-109 it’s can fit an adult and a child, and 110 and above, it can fit a maximum of two people.

Waste storage 

As well as ensuring that tenants have enough space within the house, the new measures, which were introduced last year, mean that landlords also have to provide an adequate amount of rubbish bins for the property. If landlords don’t, and the waste piles up outside the property, they could face a fine.

Fines for overcrowding

It’s important that you always ensure your rental properties adhere to the overcrowding rules. One of the main consequences of renting out overcrowded property to tenants include fines.

New measures introduced last year means landlords who don’t comply with the rules on overcrowding can face fines of up to £30,000.

A recent case saw a landlord fined almost £3,000 after allowing at least seven people let a two bedroom flat.

Rogue landlord database 

The other risk with allowing your property to be overcrowded could see you receive a banning order, which means you will be unable to let out your property. Your name could also be placed on a rogue landlord database.

MakeUrMove’s Good Landlord package includes Property Licence Monitoring, so it can ensure your property always remains compliant, as well as granting access to your own landlord portal where you can managing and store all your properties in one place.

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Jo Westlake

10:23 AM, 21st March 2019, About 4 years ago

The article forgot to mention ceiling height. Any area of floor with a ceiling height of less than 1.5m can't be included in the room measurements. For a single adult a room needs to be a minimum of 6.51 square meters with a ceiling height of at least 1.5m. It is perfectly possible for a room with a floor area of over 8 square meters to be well under 6.51 square meters of countable space.
These rooms are often the nicest to live in rooms - at the back of the house, on the top floor, overlooking gardens, no traffic noise, characterful, etc.
Enlarging the dormer window may be possible in some cases to make the room legal but it doesn't allow any extra furniture, so no real improvement for the tenant. It's expensive, spoils character and probably wouldn't be allowed in conservation areas.
How many thousands of rooms will be removed from the lettings market due to this piece of legislation?


11:07 AM, 21st March 2019, About 4 years ago

It is of course preferable to have people homeless than allow any overcrowding.

Old Mrs Landlord

11:35 AM, 21st March 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 21/03/2019 - 10:23
I thought the 6.51 sq m. minimum for a single adult only applied in HMOs. Is this correct?

Jo Westlake

13:07 PM, 21st March 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Old Mrs Landlord at 21/03/2019 - 11:35
That's a good question and one I have previously failed to get a definitive answer to. Does it apply to just licensed HMOs, small unlicensed HMOs or all let properties?

Mick Roberts

10:13 AM, 23rd March 2019, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Jo Westlake at 21/03/2019 - 13:07
Here is some notes in me phone calendar I have for when I recently ranted about room sizes.
They was apparently bought in for HIMO's, but now Selective Licensing can apply them to normal houses:

Yesterday we got told minimum bedroom size 6.51 sqm for over 10 years old kids. Which the Govt bringing in minimum size for Rogue Landlords overcrowding etc.
And Licensing said yesterday something like if smaller than 6.51 sqm, we or they got 18 months to move or do something about it.

Now here’s what happens in the real world, where I ain’t overcrowding like London 20 immigrants to a house.
Over the last 20 years, I’ve had bedrooms in my houses to fit single bed in & wardrobe in, I’m guessing 6ft 6 x 6ft 6. Which is less than 4 sqm. SHOCK HORRORS I hear u say.

But when woman has moved in, she says WOW, I now have 3 bed house, I have a room to put my baby in, my 5 year old, my 10 year old kid etc. Brilliant Thank you. My last council house was overcrowded, 3 kids sharing 1 bedroom

Now I’ve just read on Google, that this 6.51 sqm is too small when kid gets over 10. So what do we do? Chuck ‘em out? Are Licensing saying they can’t live there any more?
Now here’s more real world stuff for u. These rooms were only mean’t for baby. As the past 20 years have gone by, as many of you will know, housing shortage massive, & what was babies in these rooms years ago are now over 10 years old. And here’s more shock horror for u. I’ve gone in some of these rooms & woman Mum tenant has now got bunk beds in this SMALL room with TWO kids in there. What? Is that my fault? I've said u can't put two kids in there. She says where they gonna' go? The council has nothing for me. I can't afford bigger house. What do u propose I do?

All ‘cause the council can’t house them.

And I also know the other dept of the council is making their rooms even smaller so they can get their tenants out the bedroom tax trap, so the council no longer have to chase up the £15 a week cut that gets placed on tenant in 3 bed & now council can say it’s a 2 bed cause room too small, even though council know tenants will still be using it as a bedroom. You couldn’t make it up, could you.

I also have a family of 5 who lived in 3 bedroom of mine for 12 years. 5 years ago, my 5 bed come up & they moved into this one. The 53 year old brother is SO SO THANKFUL he now has his own bedroom. Which I know is smaller than 6.51 sq m. But he is SO SO GRATEFUL. But is Licensing telling him he now has to move. Where is he gonna’ go?

And Licensing will be making us evict these tenants, who then go from 6 people in a 3 bed house to 6 people in one Travelodge room.
And then the homeless department then ring us up and say Have u got anywhere for this family? And they end up going to somewhere smaller than they had before.

All REAL WORLD STUFF! But Now Licensing will be making these homeless.

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