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Housing Minister, Alok Sharma, has announced that mandatory HMO licensing will be extended, to be in place from 1st October 2018, once approved by Parliament. It has been over two years since the Government first consulted on the issue, and the Government is now seeking Parliamentary approval on regulations, and also hopes to implement rules on purpose-built flats.

The Government will extend the scope of mandatory licensing to apply to certain HMOs that are occupied by five or more persons in two or more households, regardless of storey numbers.

This brings purpose-built or converted flats, where there are two flats within the block, into the extension of mandatory licensing.

The three-storey rule will also be removed, as current mandatory licensing applies to HMO properties of at least three stories and five occupants, consisting of at least two family units.

Research from RLA has discovered that 16 per cent of landlords let properties to tenants in HMOs, with a further 177,000 HMOs estimated to become subject to the extended mandatory licensing in England.

Properties will be liable for mandatory licensing if they fit the following criteria:

* The property is occupied by five or more tenants

* The property is occupied by people living in at least two separate households, and meet –

– the basic test as part of section 254(2) of the Act

– the self-contained flat test as part of section 254(3) of the Act, if it is not a purpose-built flat located in a block consisting of three or more self-contained flats; or

– the converted building test as part of section 254(4) of the Act.

The Order applies to HMOs in England, but it does not apply to converted flats under section 257 of the Act. These are buildings that would have been converted into and include self-contained flats where the building work undertaken during the conversion does not comply with appropriate building standards. Two-thirds of these self-contained flats must also be owner-occupied.

The HMOs currently licensed under Additional Licensing Schemes will be passed onto the mandatory scheme. The Government will also introduce mandatory conditions in licenses to regulate the size and use of rooms as sleeping accommodation in licensed HMOs. This will prescribe the minimum size for rooms used for sleeping and will specify how many children and adults can sleep in a room of a given size. Currently, the Government has delayed making regulations relating to minimum room size.

The Government will also introduce mandatory conditions within HMO licenses, which require the license holder to comply with local authority schemes on proper disposal and storage of domestic refuse.

Contrary to a previous Government announcement, there will now be no grace period of six months. All relevant landlords must apply for a license by 1st October, 2018.

The RLA has stated it finds these changes unnecessary, claiming it will put a large strain on local authorities, and it has made this clear in a formal response to the Government’s consultation.

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