Landlords must pay rent back if HMO licence has not been obtained by 1st October 2018

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It is essential that landlords remain up to date with regulations, and on the 1st of October 2018, there were changes to the licensing relating to multi-occupied properties. Even if you don’t have an HMO property in your portfolio now, make sure you are aware of the changes, because there will likely be changes to the overall property market. However, if you do let a multiple-occupied property, it is essential that you are aware of the changes.

Is your HMO licence displayed in the house you are letting out? This is mandatory

The new regulations relate to properties where there are at least five people in residence and these people crate at least two separate households.

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The definition of an HMO under the Housing Act 2004 has been altered, and from the 1st of October 2018, an HMO now refers to a property with five or more people with these people forming two or more separate households

Stay up to date with letting regulations

This is different from the previous definition. Yes, the former definition referred to at least 5 people and the property containing at least two separate households, but it also made reference to the property holding at least three storeys. This is no longer the case, which means that the HMO definition will apply to all property types.

If you have 5 self-contained studio flats in one conversion it needs HMO licence now!

Any landlord that holds an HMO licence under the previous definition will be allowed to continue in this manner until that licence expires. The standard length of time for a licence is 5 years from the issue date. Once the licence has expired, the landlord will have to apply for a new licence.

A landlord that currently lets a property which didn’t require a licence but now does after the changes should apply for a licence as soon as possible. As is usually the case, there are exceptions to the rules. The exception comes if the property is in a purpose-built block containing at least three units.

Check the available floor space at the property

Another change is found in Regulation 2 and this states the minimum room size and standards for property which falls under mandatory licencing.

If the usable floor space is less than 6.51sqm and 10.22sqm, where the room is occupied by two adults, a landlord will be prohibited from letting the property to a single adult. An HMO licence should also state the maximum number of people who can occupy specific sleeping accommodation rooms in a property.

If a landlord continues to let rooms that don’t meet the expected standard, they will be considered to be in breach of licence conditions. This could see the landlord being prosecuted by the local authority or they could be issued with a civil penalty under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 provisions.

However, landlords should be aware that under a rent repayment order, the may have to repay rent to a tenant or housing benefit to the council, up to a maximum of 12 months, if they have collected rent while not holding a licence.

Given that the new regulations came into force at the start of October 2018, there hasn’t been too long a period for this sum to add up, but the longer a landlord waits to resolve any licence issue they have, the more money they need to pay back.

If you are a landlord in Brixton or surrounding areas and you need guidance with these new regulations or any other issues, please get in touch. I am highly skilled and experienced in assisting landlords and I look forward to helping you let your property in an effective manner.

Matylda Nowak

CEO, Kings Accommodation

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