As the demand for affordable and co-living housing continues to rise in many cities, HMOs have become a popular solution for many. An HMO or House of Multiple Occupancy, is a property that is rented out to three or more tenants who form more than one household, sharing facilities such as bathrooms, kitchens, or living rooms. However, to operate an HMO, landlords and property owners must meet certain requirements and more often than not, obtain an HMO licence from the local authority. In this article, we will explore HMO licence requirements, including who needs an HMO licence and different types of licences.
Mandatory HMO Licencing Requirements
An HMO Property requires a Mandatory HMO licence when the property accommodates five or more individuals from more than one household, where they share common facilities such as a bathroom, toilet, or kitchen.
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 outlines the requirements for HMO licensing in England. These regulations are in place to ensure that HMOs are well-managed, safe, and suitable for habitation. The purpose of the licence is to regulate the standard of HMOs and to protect the health, safety, and well-being of the tenants and the wider community.
Under the regulations, the local council is responsible for issuing the licence and ensuring that the HMO meets certain minimum HMO standards. These standards cover a range of areas including fire safety, HMO management rules, and health and safety. The council may also impose additional conditions on the licence as they see fit.
In order to secure a Mandatory HMO Licence, the landlord must demonstrate that the property meets the following requirements:
- Adequate fire safety measures, including fire alarms and escape routes
- In case of fire adequate means of escape
- Adequate and well-maintained common areas, including bathrooms, toilets, and kitchens
- Adequate heating and ventilation
- Adequate lighting and electrical safety
- Proper management arrangements, including a designated person responsible for managing the HMO
The council may also inspect the property at any time to ensure that the licence conditions are being met. If the landlord fails to comply with the conditions of the licence, the council may revoke the licence, and the landlord may be subject to enforcement action.
Additional HMO Licensing
In some areas, local authorities may introduce additional licensing schemes for HMOs. These schemes can only be introduced if the council is satisfied that a significant proportion of the HMOs are being poorly managed and are causing problems for the occupiers or members of the public.
Any decision to implement an additional licensing scheme must be consistent with the council’s housing strategy and must be part of a coordinated approach for dealing with homelessness, empty homes and anti-social behaviour. The local authority must ensure that there are no alternative solutions available that could effectively address the issue, and that the implementation of a licensing program would make a significant impact.
Councils can implement an additional licensing scheme provided it meets all the requirements in the Housing Act 2004, and they have consulted with everyone affected by the designation for a minimum of 10 weeks.
Under Additional HMO Licensing, local authorities have the authority to specify which HMOs within their jurisdiction require a licence. Typically, they require a licence for any HMO with three or more occupants from separate households. This is in contrast to Mandatory HMO Licensing, where a licence is required for HMOs with five or more occupants.
Selective licensing is a scheme introduced by local authorities in some areas to regulate the private rented sector. This means that all landlords, regardless of whether their properties are Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) or not, must obtain a licence in order to rent out their properties. Selective licensing is designed to improve the standard of privately rented homes and to combat anti-social behaviour.
The purpose of selective licensing is to address specific problems in certain areas such as low housing demand, high levels of anti-social behaviour, or poor property conditions. Local authorities can apply for a designation from the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to implement selective licensing in a defined area.
In order to obtain a selective licensing licence, landlords must demonstrate that their properties meet a minimum standard and that they are a fit and proper person to rent out properties. This includes ensuring that the property is safe and secure, well managed, and free from environmental health hazards such as mould or damp.
It is important for landlords to understand their responsibilities under selective licensing and to comply with all the conditions of the licence. Failure to do so can result in enforcement action, including fines, prohibition orders, and in some cases, criminal prosecution.
By implementing selective licensing, local authorities aim to improve the standard of privately rented homes, promote good practice among landlords, and reduce anti-social behaviour.
Operating a House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO) can be a great solution for landlords and tenants alike, but it comes with certain legal obligations that must be met. Landlords and property owners must ensure that their properties meet HMO licence requirements and obtain the necessary licences from the local council. The purpose of these regulations and licences is to ensure that HMOs are safe, well-managed, and suitable for habitation.
Local councils have the power to inspect properties and impose additional conditions on licences if necessary. Selective licensing and additional HMO licensing may also apply in certain areas to improve the standard of privately rented homes and combat anti-social behavior. As such, it is important for landlords to understand their responsibilities and comply with all licensing requirements to avoid enforcement action.
If you need a professional HMO Letting Agent to let or manage your South London HMO, or need help getting your HMO licence, contact us today.