HMOs New Rules

New Rules: From 1 October 2018 mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to certain HMOs that are three or more storeys high, but will also include buildings with one or two storeys.

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018

In April 2018, Parliament approved secondary legislation which reforms the mandatory HMO licensing regime.   The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 20182 (‘the Prescribed Description Order 2018’) has the effect of extending the scope of section 55(2)(a) of the Housing Act 2004 (‘the Act’), so that mandatory HMO licensing also applies to HMO properties which are less than three storeys high. The Prescribed Description Order 2018 also deals with the passporting of licences granted under additional and selective licensing schemes into the mandatory licensing regime. A second statutory instrument, the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 20185 (‘the Mandatory Conditions Regulations 2018’) amends Schedule 4 of the Act, introducing new conditions that must be included in licences that have been granted under Part 2 of the Act.

These are: • Mandatory national minimum sleeping room sizes; and • Waste disposal provision requirements.

Part 2 of the 2004 Act provides for local housing authorities to license HMOs in their areas if they meet the definition of an HMO prescribed under section 55 of the 2004 Act. The Prescribed Description Order 2018 prescribes the types of buildings that will be subject to mandatory licensing. It revokes and replaces the 2006 order6 which applies until that date. From 1 October 2018, mandatory licensing will no longer be limited to certain HMOs that are three or more storeys high, but will also include buildings with one or two storeys

Local housing authorities are under a duty to grant the licence if they are satisfied that: (a) the house is reasonably suitable for occupation for the maximum number of households or persons specified in the application or decided by the authority (or that it can be made so suitable by the imposition of conditions);

(b) the proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to be the licence holder and is a fit and proper person to be the licence holder;

(c) the proposed manager of the house is the person having control of the house or an agent or employee of that person and is a fit and proper person to be the manager of the house; and

(d) the proposed management arrangements for the house are otherwise satisfactory

New mandatory licence conditions 

Mandatory conditions   Section 67(1) of the 2004 Act provides that a local housing authority may impose conditions relating to the management, use and occupation of a licensed HMO. Under section 67(3) it is mandatory for the local housing authority to include certain conditions in HMO licences. The mandatory conditions are specified in Schedule 4 of the 2004 Act and relate to the provision of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms; gas safety and the safety of electrical appliances and furniture. Schedule 4 conditions apply to all licensed HMOs (under both mandatory and additional schemes).

The Mandatory Conditions Regulations 2018 amend Schedule 4 of the Act, introducing the following new conditions: • Mandatory national minimum sleeping room sizes  and • Waste disposal provision requirements

From 1 October 2018 local housing authorities must impose conditions as to the minimum room size which may be occupied as sleeping accommodation in the HMO. A room smaller than the specified size must not be used as sleeping accommodation, and communal space in other parts of the HMO cannot be used to compensate for rooms smaller than the prescribed minimum. The purpose of this condition is to reduce overcrowding in smaller HMOs. The standards adopted are similar, but not identical to, those relating to overcrowding in dwellings under section 326 of the Housing Act 1985.  3.4 What is the minimum sleeping room size? The minimum sleeping room floor area sizes (subject to the measurement restrictions detailed in the paragraphs below) to be imposed as conditions of Part 2 licences are: • 6.51 m2 for one person over 10 years of age • 10.22 m2 for two persons over 10 years

  • 4.64 m2 for one child under the age of 10 years It will also be a mandatory condition that any room of less than 4.64 m2 may not be used as sleeping accommodation and the landlord will need to notify the local housing authority of any room in the HMO with a floor area of less than 4.64 m2. The measurement is one of wall to wall floor area where the ceiling height is greater than 1.5m. No part of a room should be included in the measurement where the ceiling height is less than 1.5m. In addition, local housing authorities are required to impose conditions specifying the maximum number of persons over 10 years of age and/or persons under 10 years of age who may occupy specified rooms provided in HMOs for sleeping accommodation. The standards are designed to ensure consistency of approach on minimum room sizes used for sleeping within HMOs, and so give certainty for landlords, tenants and local authorities on the absolute minimum standards that are acceptable

From 1 October 2018, local authorities will be required to impose a mandatory condition concerning the provision of suitable refuse storage facilities for HMOs. Local authorities will be aware that HMOs, occupied by separate and multiple households, generate more waste and rubbish than single family homes. Some local authorities have made specific provision under their function as the local waste authority for landlords of HMOs to ensure there are appropriate facilities for storing rubbish their properties generate.  All licensed HMOs will need to comply with the scheme issued by the local authority (if one exists) for the storage and disposal of domestic refuse pending collection. A licence holder’s failure to comply with the scheme is a breach of the licence and criminal offence.  This condition must be included in all HMO licences (mandatory or additional) granted or renewed after commencement of the Mandatory Conditions Regulations 2018 on 1 October 2018.  Local authorities should be mindful that HMOs are residential properties, and as such, they should provide a comprehensive and frequent waste collection service for such households which is free at the point of use; this includes HMOs which are occupied by students. Accordingly, it would not be appropriate for local authorities to levy commercial waste charging on such residential properties, or seek to impose such charging via any scheme or direction. We acknowledge that some local waste authorities may not have a scheme for storage facilities at HMOs and whilst this new condition does not mean local authorities have to put one in place, they may wish to consider reviewing their waste policies in the light of these new provisions.

All licences issued after 1 of October 2018 will need to include a condition requiring the compliance with the council’s storage and waste disposal scheme (if one exists). A licence holder’s failure to comply with the scheme is a breach of the licence and a criminal offence.

Useful Links

The Housing Act 2004 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/contents The Housing Act 2004: Explanatory Memorandum   http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2004/34/notes/contents

Secondary Legislation  The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/221/made The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/616/contents/made The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/373/contents/made The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2007/1903/contents/made