New proposals would bring about 174,000 more HMO properties into licensing
Government have proposed a minimum bedroom size and the extension of licensing to thousands more properties, as part of a government crackdown on rogue landlords in England.
Focusing on bad landlords who cram tenants into overcrowded PRS homes, these new proposals only apply to England, and include the introduction of a minimum bedroom size of 6.52 sq. metres (70 sq. ft.) in shared houses classed as homes in multiple occupation (HMO). The size would be applied for each individual or couple living in the property, so landlords would be unable to squeeze in bunk beds.
Other proposals in the recently published consultation paper include: extending mandatory licensing rules for HMOs to flats above shops and other business premises; requiring landlords to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish; and tightening up the “fit and proper person” test for landlords. The rules only apply to HMOs requiring licences, which are shared homes with five or more people from two or more households. The changes would bring about 174,000 more properties into licensing, on top of the existing 60,000.
The Housing Act 1985 specifies minimum space standards, but a tribunal case in April 2015 caused confusion when it ruled that standards could only be guidance. Following that ruling, Oxford City Council lost a case against a PRS landlord who wanted to renew a licence to let a house with a bedroom that was just over 5 sq metres.
The government said it wanted to make the standard mandatory as part of a package of measures it said would help councils bring an end to ruthless landlords, who exploit tenants and charge them extortionate rents to live in poor conditions.
The government is also seeking views on whether the licensing arrangements for purpose-built student accommodation are appropriate.
Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell, said: “In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live.
“These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area. By driving out rogue landlords that flout the rules of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”
David Smith, policy director at the Residential Landlords Association, said: “We agree that tackling criminal landlords must be a priority. We wait to see the full details, but powers are already available to tackle overcrowding which is about the number of people crammed into a room, not the size of a room.
“What is needed is proper enforcement of existing powers.”
Yesterday, housing charity Shelter claimed that more than four in 10 people in Britain rent homes that do not reach acceptable standards. However one of our landlord members quite rightly pointed out that ‘Landlords are not changing the rules – Government have changed the rules.’ (click here to read in full.)
HMO landlords, how do you feel about this proposal?
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