The new rules plan to extend the scope of licensing for HMOs, meaning that a licence will be required for HMOs with five or more occupiers.
Currently, the licence only applies to properties with three or more storeys that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households. This will mean substantially more properties will be required to have a licence.
Alongside the mandatory licensing, the government has proposed a minimum room size for bedrooms in licensed HMOs.
This is something that has been hotly debated between councils and landlords, and is often (quite rightly) called out in the press in cases where bad practices have come to light.
What do we no now?
The Government intend to implement the extension of mandatory licensing in 2 phases.
The first phase will last for 6 months, wherein landlords will be expected to apply for a licence and comply with any changes needing to be made. If a landlord has not made an application within this 6 month 'grace period', they will not be allowed to serve a Section 21 notice seeking possession from a tenant.
It is crucial to note that applying for a licence is not optional, the 6 month change over period just allows you to comply with the new legislation.
If, after this time period, you have not complied with the new mandatory scheme, then you could face serious penalties, including hefty fines and criminal prosecution.
If you already hold a licence under an additional licensing scheme, then your licence will be moved into the new mandatory scheme without any further cost or alterations to the licence conditions for the remainder of the licence period.
It is therefore highly advisable to ensure that you review your properties ahead of the expected changes so that you are well ahead of the game when the time comes and are fully prepared for licensing.
If in doubt, click here for more information and it is advisable to speak to your local authority to find out exactly what the implications are in case you either own or intend to own this type of property in the near future.