Houses in Multiple Occupation – Licensing and Management Information for Landlords

May 2016

If you are a landlord of a residential property you, or your agent, will need to comply with an ever-increasing number of legal requirements. All landlords (or agents) need to be aware of their responsibilities regarding health and safety, fire safety, protection of tenancy deposits and right to rent checks, to give a few examples.

If you are the landlord of a house in multiple occupation (HMO) the regulatory burden is even greater. Some HMOs need to be licensed and all HMOs are subject to Regulations regarding their management.

Landlords also need to be aware that some non-HMO private rented properties need to be licensed if a “selective licensing” scheme is in place in the relevant area.

Simply-Docs has created new guidance notes and template documents to assist landlords of HMOs and other properties affected by a licensing regime.

What is a HMO?

In simple terms, a house or flat is a HMO if it is occupied by three or more tenants who form two or more households and the tenants share some or all of the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

When does an HMO need to be licensed?

There are two types of licensing for HMOs – mandatory licensing and additional licensing. Licences to operate HMOs are obtained from the local housing authority.

Mandatory licensing applies to “large HMOs”. A large HMO is a property with three or more storeys occupied by 5 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share some or all of the toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

Additional licensing applies if the local housing authority has designated an area as subject to additional licensing of HMOs. This means that a licence is required for the types of HMO specified in the designation, not just those fitting the description of a large HMO. Additional licensing may be introduced to address problems caused by ineffective management of HMOs in the particular area.

When do other private rented properties need a licence?

Local housing authorities additionally have the power to designate the whole or part of their district as subject to selective licensing of all non-HMO private rented properties. Selective licensing may be introduced to address problems caused by low housing demand and/or significant anti-social behaviour.

Management of HMOs

Landlords of HMOs, whether licensed or unlicensed, must comply with The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006. These Regulations cover practical issues relating to the management and maintenance of HMOs. There are also duties placed on occupiers of HMOs.

New documents

Our new guidance notes give an overview of the issues landlords need to be aware of regarding the management of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and the licensing of HMOs and other private rented properties. New template notices and letters will help landlords to discharge their duties to provide contact information to the occupiers, deal with gas and electrical safety requirements and advise occupiers of their duties.

Forthcoming changes to HMO regulation

The Government has consulted on proposals to extend the scope of mandatory licensing. We are keeping an eye on developments and will keep our customers informed of any changes made to the HMO legislation.

The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific legal matter.

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