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September 26

by Samantha Altman
Deadline for new HMO licences is ticking down

The clock is ticking for shared house landlords who have yet to apply for a licence under new laws that take effect from October 1.

House in multiple occupation landlords in England must apply for a licence by the deadline or risk criminal prosecution and the prospect of huge fines.

Failing to comply with HMO licensing rules can attract unlimited fines, while flouting new standards for bedrooms comes with a penalty of up to £30,000.

But many landlords may not realise they need a licence as the new rules net around 160,000 private rented homes that are outside the current rules.

Landlords must have a licence for each HMO they own.

Licences last for five years and are typically priced between £500 and £1,500 a property.

More shared homes fall under the new rules as the definition of an HMO needing a mandatory licence has changed to include all homes with five or more tenants making up two or more households who share cooking and washing facilities.

Current rules only require shared homes of three or more storeys to have a mandatory licence.

The legislation also introduces new bedroom sizes for tenants in a bid to tackle overcrowding. The minimum size for a bedroom for a single adult is 6.51 square metres or 10.22 square metres for two adults. The room size for a child under 10 is a minimum 4.64 square metres.

Another new measure demands that landlords provide adequate bins and storage for household waste.

Scotland and Wales have separate HMO rules that are unchanged from October 1, although sweeping changes to privately renting a home are due in Scotland from December.

Landlords must make a licence application with the council where an HMO is located by September 30 to avoid prosecution. The new laws have no period of grace.

You can find out more information, including whether your property qualifies, by following government guidance here.

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