Government announce changes to protect tenants in HMOs

The government has published new guidance for landlords to protect tenants from being exposed to poor living conditions.

From 1 October this year, landlords who let a property to five or more people – from two or more separate households – must be licensed by their local housing authority.

The move will affect around 160,000 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) and will mean councils can take further action to crack down on the small minority of landlords renting out sub-standard and overcrowded homes.

Rules will also be introduced to set minimum size requirements for bedrooms in HMOs to prevent overcrowding.

Landlords will also be required to adhere to council refuse schemes, to reduce problems with rubbish.

The guidance document includes further details on extending mandatory licensing to smaller HMOs as the government continues to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords.

The government will also review selective licensing to see how well it has been working. Selective licensing allows local housing authorities to make it compulsory for all private rented accommodation in a specified area to have a licence.

In areas where selective licensing applies, landlords must apply for a licence if they want to rent out a property. This means the council can check whether they are a ‘fit or proper person’ to be a landlord, as well as making other stipulations concerning management of the property and appropriate safety measures.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: ““This new guidance for landlords will further protect private renters against bad and overcrowded conditions and poor management practice.”

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