Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
The regulations governing houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are changing on 1 October 2018. They will now extend to smaller properties, affecting more landlords. The rules on exactly what constitutes an HMO are complex and failure to comply is an offence, so landlords must get specialist legal advice to make sure they stay within the law. Louis Mathers, Director of Conveyancing and Commercial Property at Parnalls Solicitors explains.
‘HMOs are regulated to make sure that tenants are safe’ says Louis. ‘Up to now the rules have applied only to buildings with three or more storeys but from 1 October single storey buildings could be HMOs if they meet the other requirements.’
HMO landlords must comply with rules on good management and many HMOs will require a licence from the local authority, so it is crucial that landlords understand how the rules affect their properties.
What is an HMO?
At its most simple, an HMO is a house or flat which is shared. To qualify, a building (or part of a building) must be occupied by more than one household who share a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities. The households must occupy the building as their only or main residence and pay rent.
The rules can apply to parts of a building and to self-contained flats within a building, as long as the requirements for households sharing are met. Purpose-built blocks of flats will not be HMOs, although an individual shared flat in the block might be. There are special rules for converted blocks of flats and self-contained flats within buildings, so it is crucial to discuss your specific situation with a solicitor.
The regulations define what counts as a single household. This includes a single person and various sorts of family relationships, plus some other arrangements, such as people with live-in carers and some domestic employment relationships. For example, three unrelated individuals sharing will count as three households; a family and an unrelated individual will count as two.
Some buildings that would otherwise be HMOs are exempt. The exemptions most likely to apply to private landlords are:
- buildings occupied by no more than two individuals who form two households; and
- buildings where the landlord is a resident and shares with no more than two others.
The resident landlord exemption highlights a potential trap for parents considering buying a house to accommodate a child at university. If there are more than two other students sharing and contributing rent, the house is likely to be an HMO.
Management of HMOs
Not all HMOs need to be licensed but all are subject to rules about management. These include maintaining satisfactory fire safety arrangements and keeping both common areas and the occupiers’ living accommodation in good repair.
Licensing of HMOs
HMOs occupied by five or more people, who form at least two households, are subject to mandatory licensing by the relevant local authority, with the exception of some converted blocks of flats which are subject to separate rules. If in doubt, check with your solicitor.
The regulations also provide for additional licensing by local authorities, who may be entitled to require all HMOs in specific areas to be licensed. This power may be exercised where a number of HMOs in an area are being poorly managed and causing problems to other residents.
To obtain a licence the owner must show satisfactory management arrangements. When a licence is granted, it will state a maximum number of occupants and may be subject to a requirement to carry out specific improvements. A licence will be granted for a maximum of five years.
A landlord who has let parts of an HMO on an assured shorthold tenancy will not be able to use the ‘no default’ possession process under section 21 of the Housing Act 2004 if the HMO is not licensed when it should be. Private landlords rely heavily on section 21, so this is a significant practical deterrent.
Failing to comply with the regulations on HMOs is a criminal offence and can result in a fine or prosecution. The complexity of the rules means that landlords of buildings that could be HMOs need expert legal advice. More buildings will be affected from October 2018 and timely advice could avoid serious legal consequences.
For further information, please contact Louis Mathers on 01566 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.