The October 1st deadline for new mandatory licensing rules of HMOs is only weeks away. There has been almost no government assistance in the form of information campaigns considering the latest .Gov website update says landlords could get an ‘unlimited’ fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.
The old rules included a stipulation that the HMO only had to fall under mandatory licensing if the property had three or more storeys, shared by five or more people in two or more households, where facilities such as kitchen or bathroom are shared.
The new rules remove the stipulation for 3 or more stories and a property of any height that fits the other criteria above must be licensed.
It will not be possible to serve a section 21 if a property has not been properly licensed and a landlord or agent or both could face a criminal prosecution and record, an unlimited fine and an order to pay court costs and a victim surcharge.
However, the council could alternatively issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and a rent repayment order of up to 12 months rental income. This option would obviously be more lucrative for councils.
A guide is available from the government titled: Licensing of houses in multiple occupation in England: a guide for landlords and managers Click Here to download
This publication is aimed at landlords and managers who manage a house in multiple occupation (HMO), or if you are not sure whether you manage an HMO. The booklet explains more about HMOs, which HMOs are required to be licensed and what other if any responsibilities there are in relation to the management of HMOs.
Click Here to Apply for a House in Multiple Occupation Licence (see screenshot below)
A licence is valid for a maximum of 5 years.
You must renew your licence before it runs out.
You need a separate licence for each HMO you run.
You must make sure:
- the house is suitable for the number of occupants (eg size and facilities)
- the manager of the house – you or an agent – is considered to be ‘fit and proper’, eg no criminal record, or breach of landlord laws or code of practice
You must also:
- send the council an updated gas safety certificate every year
- install and maintain smoke alarms
- provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances when requested
The council may add other conditions to your licence, eg improving the standard of your facilities. They will let you know when you apply.
If you disagree with any conditions the council sets, you can appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal.
You should apply for the licence yourself, but if you use a managing agent they can apply for you.
You’ll be charged a fee which is set by the council.
Fines and penalties
You could get an unlimited fine for renting out an unlicensed HMO.
Read the guide for landlords and managers who manage HMOs for more information.