Do all HMOs have to be licensed?
All HMO’s of 5 or more are now licensable regardless of how many floors they have. Effectively this means the storey requirement will be removed from the current definition.
Purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both of the flats are occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more separate households. This will apply regardless of whether the block is above or below commercial premises. This will bring certain flats above shops on high streets within mandatory licensing as well as small blocks of flats which are not connected to commercial premises.
As is the case now, it is the individual HMO that is required to be licensed and not the building within which the HMO is situated. This means that where a building has two flats and each is occupied by 5 persons living in 2 or more households, each flat will require a separate HMO licence.
Who must hold the licence?
Either the landlord (owner) or someone they nominate (such as a manager or agent) can hold the licence, provided that person is in agreement. To grant a licence, we must be satisfied that:
- The proposed licence holder and any manager of the property are ‘fit and proper’ persons
- The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the licence
- Satisfactory management standards are in place.
- The HMO is reasonably suitable, or can be made suitable, for occupation by the number of tenants allowed under the licence and has at least the minimum prescribed standards of amenities and facilities (including the number, type and quality of shared bathrooms, toilets and cooking facilities).
What does the term ‘fit and proper person’ mean?
The licence holder and any manager must be ‘fit and proper’ persons to hold the licence or manage the HMO. In determining whether the licence holder or manager is ‘fit and proper, we will consider:
- Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud
- Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues
- Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination
- Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have breached any approved code of practice.
The licensing application form has a ‘fit and proper’ person declaration that the proposed licence holder and any manager must complete and sign.
What are the licence terms and conditions?
The HMO licence will specify the maximum number of people permitted to occupy the HMO and if necessary the number of people permitted to occupy each room within the HMO.
The HMO licence will be valid for up to five years.
There are mandatory licensing conditions that must be complied with. These include:
- Provision of an annual gas safety certificate;
- Ensuring all electrical appliances and furniture are kept in a safe condition;
- Ensuring smoke alarms are installed and kept in proper working order;
- Ensure a carbon monoxide alarm is installed in any room containing a solid fuel burning combustion appliance and keep the alarm in proper working order;
- Provision of a tenancy agreement to each occupier.
Discretionary conditions may also be applied, these could include:
- Restrictions or prohibitions on the use or occupation of parts of the HMO;
- Requirement to deal with any anti-social behaviour by person(s) occupying or visiting the HMO;
- Provision of additional facilities;
- Requirements to ensure the fixed electrical installations, electrical appliances and fire detection systems are in working order and the relevant certificates are provided.
How much will the licence cost?
The fee for an HMO Licence is £1,000 for each property and it lasts for 5 years. It has been calculated to ensure that no burden is placed on the Council Tax payer in issuing the licence and on full cost recovery. It largely covers the administrative process including validations/checks and for the initial inspection. It does not cover any enforcement action in the unfortunate event of a breach. The Council will reduce the fee by 20% for 3 or more applications received for the same person managing the HMO’s. If you have any queries about multiple applications to be submit, please call 01832 742102 for more information.
What are the penalties for renting a licensable HMO, without obtaining a licence?
Failure to licence an HMO or to permit a breach of the licence conditions will incur the following penalties:
- A financial penalty up to £30,000.00
- Prosecution resulting in a criminal record and an unlimited fine
- A Rent Repayment Order to recover up to 12 months’ worth of rent paid by housing benefits to the landlord/agent directly or by the tenant. Tenants including former tenants living at the property whilst it was unlicensed or the Local Authority may apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) for a Rent Repayment Order (RRO)
- Interim Management Orders (IMO)
- The landlord cannot issue a section 21 "Notice Requiring Possession" during the period the property is unlicensed
How do I apply for a licence?
You can apply for a licence by following the link below. Please consult the application guidance.
For further information and guidance on how to apply for an HMO please visit https://www.gov.uk/house-in-multiple-occupation-licence