Local authorities are being given even more powers to oversee licensed multiple occupancy homes, with fines of up to £30,000 for landlords found flouting the rules. From October, the new legislation will mean councils can set minimum bedroom sizes and introduce limits on the number of people who can occupy each bedroom in licensed HMOs. Landlords found in breach of these regulations can be fined directly by the local authority. These measures are part of the central government initiative to target rogue landlords, which can see the worst offenders hit with banning orders. Once again, regulations are being introduced to clamp down on rogue landlords who disobeyed existing rules and regulations. Yet again, it is legitimate landlords who will invest in their properties and face further financial burdens to stay within the law.
These new standards for living conditions in HMOs will apply to all landlords who apply for new licences. Owners of existing properties will have 18 months to make any changes that are necessary when they re-apply for a licence which has expired. According to the proposals, bedrooms for one person aged 10 or over will need to be a minimum size of 6.51sqm, while those occupied by two people over 10 will need to be least 10.22sqm. Bedrooms for children aged 10 or under will need to be a minimum size of 4.64sqm.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said this will make sure tenants have sufficient space, as well as reduce the health and safety risks of sharing cooking and bathroom facilities with too many other people living in the same property.
That is all well and good, but rogue landlords already work outside the law and will continue to ignore any new legislation, just as they ignore existing regulations. Cash-strapped councils are already pushed to enforce existing legislation, let alone find the funds to enforce new rules. It also does not take into consideration that some tenants are happy to pay a lower rent for a smaller room, such as the box room. Will they now need to find a new home and pay a higher rent because their room is considered to be too small? That also leaves the landlord with a room that is unusable and so they may need to increase the rent for the other tenants to compensate for the shortfall. Landlords have also asked how this will help an already existing housing shortage if more rooms are withdrawn from use because they are now considered to be too small.
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