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Masthead Local Govt - Housing

Rules on properties requiring HMO licence to be strengthened from April

Landlords renting properties in England occupied by five or more people, from two or more separate households, will need to hold a house of multiple occupation (HMO) licence from April 2018, Housing Minister Alok Sharma has announced.

The measure, which affects around 160,000 houses, follows a consultation and is subject to parliamentary clearance. Under the current regime a property has to comprise three or more stories to be caught.

New rules are also due to come into force setting minimum size requirements for bedrooms in HMOs to prevent overcrowding.

“As part of the licencing requirements, local councils will be able to make sure only rooms meeting the standard are used for sleeping,” the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

The HMO licence must specify the maximum number of persons (if any) who may occupy any room and the total number across the different rooms must be the same as the number of persons for whom the property is suitable to live in.

The DCLG has also set out details of criminal offences which will automatically ban someone from being a landlord.

From April, someone convicted of offences such as burglary and stalking can be added to the database of rogue landlords and be barred from renting properties.

Landlords are meanwhile to be held responsible for making sure the council’s rules on refuse and recycling are followed.

Alok Sharma said: “Every tenant has a right to a safe, secure and decent home. But far too many are being exploited by unscrupulous landlords who profit from providing overcrowded, squalid and sometimes dangerous homes.

“Enough is enough and so I’m putting these rogue landlords on notice - shape up or ship out of the rental business.

“Through a raft of new powers we are giving councils the further tools they need to crack down these rogue landlords and kick them out of the business for good.”

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