Most HMO landlords have now applied for licences

New research has found that 78% of landlords that let Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) have applied for the necessary licence.

The survey was carried out on behalf of the Department for Communities and Local Government which says the figures show that the system is working well – although it means, of course, that nearly one in four landlords have not applied and so some could be at risk of being fined up to £20,000.

Not all HMOs need to be licensed, but most will if they are three storeys or more and are occupied by five people or more who share some facilities.

The Government established the licensing system as part of the Housing Act 2004 to improve the control of HMOs and ensure proper management standards. The provisions for the licensing of HMOs and the discretionary licensing of other rented accommodation came into effect in April 2006.

Letting a qualifying HMO without a licence, or allowing it to be occupied by more tenants than specified on the licence, is a criminal offence punishable by a maximum fine of £20,000.

Breaches of licence conditions are subject to fines of up to £5,000.

HMOs that are not licensable are still subject to management regulations which impose duties to ensure minimum safety and maintenance requirements are met and fire precautionary equipment is up to standard. Breaches in these management regulations can lead to a fine of up to £5,000.

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