28/06/2018

PDF Estates Ltd welcomes news that the government has announced new guidelines for landlords of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) aimed at improving conditions for tenants.

The guidelines are aimed at helping prevent tenants from falling foul of unscrupulous landlords and agents, and they include guidelines on the minimum size requirements for bedrooms. These guidelines will come into effect from October 1, 2018, at the same time as new HMO licensing laws will launch. Under the new licensing rules, landlords of any property with five or more tenants from two or more households must register for a licence from their local authority.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has said that the new rules will further help to prevent the unsafe overcrowding that can occur in some HMO properties.

New Room Size Rules

The latest guidelines have set out minimum room size requirements for HMO properties. Single bedrooms must be a minimum of 6.51m2 while double bedrooms must measure at least 10.22m2 and bedrooms for children under the age of 10 cannot be smaller than 4.64m2. The guidelines go on to say that any room measuring less than the 4.64m2 is not suitable for any type of sleeping accommodation.

At PDF Estates, we deal with a lot of HMOs, and we strongly support the new regulations. Tenants should not be forced to live in unhospitable conditions, whether they are renting a full property or a single room in a property, and the minimum room size requirements provide tenants with a means of ensuring that they are living in acceptable conditions.

If you are an existing HMO landlord, and your rooms do not measure up, you need to make changes. In some cases, you may be able to change rooms around so that a larger bathroom, for example, is converted to a bedroom and vice versa. Alternatively, it may be necessary to make some structural changes, for example by moving an internal wall so that one room is reduced in size and that space given over to another room. Yet another option is to convert a bedroom that is too small into an additional living space. Add a downstairs bathroom, in place of the small bedroom that will no longer comply with safety regulations.

At PDF Estates Ltd, we have a lot of experience in helping landlords plan their HMO property development. We can help you plan and design your property, ensure that you meet room size requirements, and take over other aspects of your property management including tenant sourcing, rent collection, annual safety checks, and more.

This is the latest in a long series of regulatory changes and new requirements that HMO landlords must meet. A rogue landlord database was launched earlier this year, enabling tenants to ensure that they rent from reputable and honest landlords, and is now shared between local councils and agencies.

Licence Laws

It was announced in February of this year that there would be new HMO licensing requirements introduced. The new licensing rules also come into effect from October 1, and although they only really make one slight change to the definition of an HMO, it is a change that will see approximately 160,000 people added to the list of the HMO landlords that would not have previously been considered.

Under the current rules, an HMO is a property housing 5 or more tenants from 2 or more households, over three or more floors. The new rules remove the 3 floor rule, so 2 floor properties will also fall under the definition of an HMO.

Any landlord with a property that falls under this definition will need to acquire an HMO landlord licence from their local authority.

Landlords that already fall under the current licence regulations will not need to reapply until that licence comes to an end, because they will automatically qualify. However, if you are a landlord of a property, do not yet need a licence, but your property falls under the new guidelines, you will need to apply before the October 1 deadline.

HMO Landlords

It is estimated that the new rules will bring a further 160,000 landlords under the definition of HMO landlord. In some cases, acquiring the necessary licence may be a formality. If your property meets all the legal and regulatory requirements set out for an HMO investment, it should be a relatively simple process to apply for and receive the necessary licence.

At PDF Estates, we can deal with licence applications on your behalf. We stay up to date on all the latest regulation and legal changes, and we can check your property to make sure that it complies with all current regulations as well as dealing with tenants and even third-party professionals and contractors. Call us today on 020 3815 7952 and speak to one of our team, let us know what you need help with, and we can provide you with details of our various property management packages that are designed to assist with the management of your full property portfolio.