As most landlords should know by now, the laws are changing in relation to HMO licensing across the UK. Previously a shared property only needed a license if it had 5 or more occupants, 3 or more stories and 2 or more households (unrelated individuals sharing). As of the 1st October 2018 this is changing.
New laws will introduce the need for any properties with 5 or more bedrooms and 2 or more households to have a license, regardless of the number of stories in the property. So that means, any 5 bedroom or above student property will now need to have a license, obtained through the local authority in that area.
Houses of Multiple Occupation regulations were put in place to ensure that any dwellings being rented out, present a minimal risk to the health and safety of all occupants and visitors to that property. This is enforced through a minimum set of standards that will be enforced by the local council.
Recommendations to meet such standards usually include the following (we recommend checking this with the local authority in your area):
• Adequate heating suitable for heating every habitable room and bathroom.
• Adequate washing facilities for the number of tenants occupying – this usually includes a separate toilet and basin in addition to the main bathroom. Also an adequate supply of hot water and suitable drainage.
• A suitable sized kitchen with adequate work space and storage for all tenants. Also requires adequate installations, including an oven with a minimum of 4 rings for 5 tenants.
• Suitable fridge space is also required – check with your local authority to find out the correct dimensions per tenant.
• Fire precautionary facilities:
• A fire risk assessment should be carried out and submitted as part of the license application.
• Appropriate fire precaution facilities including an appropriate fire alarm system with a central panel.
• All means of escape should be properly maintained and clear at all times.
• Fire doors should all be fitted with thumb locks accessible from the inside.
• Gas safety – all cookers, heaters and gas boilers should be checked by a registered gas safe engineer once a year.
• All electrical appliances should be checked every 5 years. Electrical wiring should also be checked by a certified electrician. Any electrical work carried out should also comply with the latest British standards.
• Adequate lighting throughout the property with suitable switching.
• Suitable ventilation in all living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and hot water closet compartments.
• Suitable refuse and recycling bins or containers should be provided, adequate for the number of tenants residing in the property.
• Suitable space standards – there are standards that should be met in relation to how much space an individual tenant is entitled to. Please check this with your local authority.
If you haven’t already applied for a license and you meet the requirements to have one, we recommend you speak to your local authority immediately. Any applications not made before the 1st of October may result in a fine.