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Houses of Multiple Occupation, more commonly known as HMOs, have become a widespread and staple percentage of the UK’s rental housing market, which in recent years has grown significantly, exceeding the rate at which legislation has been able to keep up with.

However, following guidance initially released in by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments, there is to be a change to the mandatory licensing practices that will need to be followed by all HMO landlords.

Legislation currently states only HMO properties with three or more storeys, and shared by five or more persons from two or more households are included and require landlords to obtain HMO licenses.

From the 1 October 2018, however, landlords of properties let to five or more individuals or from 2 or more distinct households, irrespective of property structure, will be required to seek licensing from their local housing authority. It is estimated the development in legislation will affect around 160,000 HMO registered properties.

The key aim of this change, is a result of growing awareness and attention raised to the issue of substandard living conditions in the rental housing sector; as well as a wider crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords, overcrowded and unsafe HMO properties.

In an attempt to specifically combat the common complaint of overcrowding, further regulation is to be introduced outlining specific minimum bedroom size requirements for all HMOs. As well as requiring landlords to uphold local council refuse schemes, aimed at tackling the issues waste from HMO properties.

The guidance document released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Governments, will also provide additional details with the aim of extending the compulsory licensing to cover other, smaller HMOs. The introduction of the minimum bedroom size mentioned previously is just one of the measures being taken by the government in an effort to restore the balance between the relationships of landlords and tenants.

In addition to the mandatory licensing requirement for HMO landlords, the issue of selective licensing also exists. In an attempt to further scrutinise downfalls in the rental sector, the Government also announced the selective licensing review in June 2018. For individuals seeking to rent their properties and become landlords, councils must assess whether the individuals are a “fit or proper person”, as well as adhering to relevant safety measures and property maintenance.

The findings of independent commissioners will form the basis for the review on selective licensing, set to be released in spring 2019, using evidence from a variety of organisations representing landlords, tenants and from local authorities.

It is hoped that the new legislation will level the playing field between tenants and landlords, to ensure better living conditions. If you believe these legislative changes are likely to affect your property, then you can find more information, including the guidance document on the government website.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Lint Group by calling our 020 8554 9999 or e-mail enquiries@lintgroup.com