The Change to Mandatory HMO Licensing Expected in October 2018

Back in December 2017, the Government stated their intention to push forward with the extension of mandatory HMO licensing, for it to come into effect on October 1st 2018 (subject to Parliamentary approval).

These regulations will replace the current definition of HMO, erasing the three-storey rule and bringing purpose-built flats, where there are up to two flats in the block, into the fold.

Come October, properties that match the new criteria will require mandatory licensing, including those that are:

  • Occupied by five or more individuals.
  • Occupied by those who live in two or more separate properties and falls under:
    • The self-contained flat test under section 254(3) of the Act but is not a purpose-built flat positioned in a block made up of three or more self-contained flats or the converted building test under section 254(4) of the Act.
    • The standard test under section 254(2) of the Act.

Properties that meet the new criteria that are already licensed under a selective or additional scheme will be transferred over to the new scheme free of charge.

According to the NLA (National Landlords Association), it’s estimated that there will be an extra 177,000 HMOs will become subject to mandatory licensing in England. And around 20,000 HMOs that are already licensed under selective or additional licensing schemes will be transferred into mandatory licensing by default.

The ‘Grace’ period

In response to the HMO licensing consultation in January, the Government said it would apply these charges in two stages, with a 6-month ‘grace’ period where licenses will be required but no enforcement action will be taken.

The NLA however contacted the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) for clarity as the regulations do not make reference to the grace period it once proposed.

The MHCLG responded with confirmation that the initial plan to begin regulations with a 6-month grace period for enforcement action has changed. The latest regulations require landlords with properties that meet the new criteria for mandatory HMO licensing will need to confirm an application by 1st October 2018.

Landlords who do not apply by this date will be committing a criminal offence. Licenses granted under the new definition won’t come into effect before October.

It’s also important to note that local authorities have an obligation to raise awareness of the changes and to accept applications prior to this date. The Government will assist by publishing guides for local authorities and landlords in an attempt to help them understand the new stipulations.

The size of rooms and disposal

According to the Government’s consultation response, there are expected to be more mandatory license conditions to come. One revolves around the minimum sizes of rooms that can be used and another regards compliance with the local authority scheme for appropriate disposal of waste.