The Housing Act 2004 came into force on 6 April 2006.
The Act introduces the mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), as from 6 April 2006 it is compulsory to licence larger, higher-risk HMOs.
Larger HMOs, such as bedsits and shared houses, often have poorer physical and management standards than other privately rented properties. It is widely accepted that HMOs often contain the worst housing conditions and the greatest risk of fire. 3 storey or more HMOs pose the greatest risk to the health and safety of the occupiers. The people who live in HMOs tend to be amongst the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of society and as HMOs are the only housing option for many people, the Government recognises that it is vital that they are properly regulated and therefore the Landlord or managing Agent of those properties is now legally required to hold a licence.
Licensing is intended to make sure that:
The Housing Act 2004 makes it compulsory to licence all Houses in Multiple Occupation that are:
If your property meets all the above conditions then it must be licensed with effect from 6 April 2006.
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the Council for a licence. The Council must give a licence if it is satisfied that the:
It is an offence for the landlord or person in control of the property:
A Landlord or person acting on his behalf operating an unlicensed HMO faces a fine of up to £20,000. and a criminal record.
A Landlord or person acting on his behalf who breaks any of the licence conditions faces fines of up to £5,000.
In deciding whether someone is fit and proper, the Council must take into account:
The Council may carry out further checks to make sure that the person applying for the licence is a fit and proper person. It is advisable for the landlord or manager to be a member of a professionally recognised body, or an approved landlords association that is affiliated to the National Federation of Residential Landlords.
The licence will specify the maximum number of people who may live in the HMO. It will also include the following conditions, which apply to every licence:
The Council may also apply the following conditions:
A licence will normally last for a maximum of 5 years, although it can be for a shorter period.
Please contact the HMO team on 01274 434520 for current fee details.
Yes, if the property does not meet the conditions set out above and / or the landlord or manager is not a fit and proper person
Where it is deemed that a property or person is unsuitable for the granting of a licence and there is little prospect of being able to do so, the Council can eventually issue an Interim Management Order (IMO), this allows it to step in and manage the property. The owner keeps their rights as an owner. The order can last for a year until suitable permanent management arrangements can be made. If the IMO expires and there has been no improvement, then the Council will issue a Final Management Order. This can last up to 5 years and can be renewed after that.
You may appeal if the Council decides to:
You must make your appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal
If a Landlord or person in control of the property intends to stop operating as a HMO or reduce the numbers of occupants and can give clear evidence of this, then she or he can apply for a Temporary Exemption Notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from a HMO does not need to be licensed. If the situation is not resolved, then a second Temporary Exemption Notice can be issued. When this runs out the property must be licensed, become subject to an Interim Management Order, or cease to be a HMO.
A tenant living in the property that should have been licensed, but was not, may be able to apply to the Residential Property Tribunal to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). Councils can also reclaim any Housing Benefit that has been paid during the time that the property was without a licence.
For further information on HMO licensing you can contact the Houses in Multiple Occupation Team.