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Introduction to HMO licensing

>> HMO Licensing

Under the Housing Act 2004 certain types of house in multiple occupation must be licensed by the local housing authority (the "local authority") if they are to continue operating legally.

In general HMOs with 5 or more persons where there is some sharing of facilities will need to be licensed. (Revised April 2018 - removed 3 storey criteria).

>> Why has HMO Licensing been introduced?

HMOs provide a valuable source of affordable housing to small households and individuals, many of whom are on low incomes. HMOs can, however, be particularly difficult to manage and can present greater risks to occupants than houses occupied by single households. There are many statistics which can usefully illustrate the risks in HMOs. For example 2% of all homes are HMOs and yet they have 38% of all house fires.

Because of the risks associated with HMOs licensing for this sector has been introduced. Licensing will ensure that those HMOs which present the greatest potential risk to tenants are those that are regulated the closest.

It is hoped that LHAs (Local Housing Authorities) can work with landlords and support them in managing their properties through the licensing system.

>> Licensing seeks to ensure that:

  • Landlords are fit and proper persons. In other words that HMOs are run by good landlords who comply with all the necessary regulations are fit and proper persons
  • The standards of tenancy relations management and property management employed by a landlord are adequate
  • Local Housing Authorities have measures available to ensure that landlords are encouraged to co-operate with licensing
  • Where landlords are unwilling to, or are unable to meet the requirements of licensing local authorities can step in to manage properties
  • Vulnerable tenants in HMOs, can be protected
  • High risk HMOs and their landlords are identified so that health and safety issues can be resolved in the worst HMOs

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