Are You Prepared for the New HMO Rules

Are You Prepared for the New HMO Rules ?


Maybe you’ve heard that the Government changed the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) rules.

After all, the rules needed to be reviewed. They are complicated at the best of times with different licensing regimes – mandatory HMO licensing, the optional “additional HMO licensing” and the selective licensing.

Added to that, the rules differed amongst the Councils.

No wonder landlords and Councils were confused about their legal requirements.

The Government consulted on changes to the mandatory regime in late 2016 and is now making the changes effective to help Councils and landlords standardise HMO requirements across the country.

The question is… how does it impact you and are you prepared for the changes?

Minimum bedroom size

The rules

One of the most controversial issues is the minimum room size standard is now 6.51 sqm for one occupant or 10.22 sqm for two (or 4.64 sqm for one person under the age of 10).

If the room size is less than this it cannot be used as sleeping accommodation.

The good news is that it doesn’t include temporary visitors. However, it does include children. This means landlords cannot fill small rooms with bunk beds.

In addition, the new conditions permit Councils to specify the maximum number (if any) of people aged 10 or over, alternatively under 10, who can sleep in the specified rooms.

How does it impact you?

Many students have been happy to let a smaller single room in exchange for lower rental payments and larger communal living space. Now the landlords of these “student housing” are concerned they will need to renovate and rebuild small rooms to satisfy the new rules.

The penalty… if you let a room smaller than the minimum room size, then you will be in breach of your HMO licence. This will lead to a fine or a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

There will be a six month grace period to bring existing licenced HMO’s into compliance.

More mandatory licensing

The rules

Currently, over 60,000 HMOs require a licence. This number will likely increase to an estimated 234,000 with the new regulations, which now includes:

  • If the property is inhabited by five or more people from two or more households – it will now need to be licenced
  • Properties above commercial buildings (such as shops, offices or restaurants) must be licensed
  • Single and two storey properties must be licensed if they fall within the above classification. This now includes properties converted into bedsits.

How does it impact you?

With the addition of approximately 174,000 properties subject to mandatory licensing, many landlords will feel the changes.

Once again, there will be a grace period of six months. However, if landlords haven’t finalised their licensing requirement by then, they could receive fines and civil penalties up to £30,000.

Rubbish disposal

The rules

There is also a new requirement to meet Council refuse standards. The Government has realised that the growth of HMOs has had an impact on the local community, including pest infestation and health and safety problems when there is inadequate rubbish storage.

The new rule states that HMO licence holders must provide adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of the household waste created by the property. These must be stored in a suitable, accessible place, within the footprint of the property.

How does it impact you?

As a landlord, you will need to work out how much rubbish disposal is required and where to store the bins. Otherwise, you may risk your licence.

Next steps for landlords and local housing authorities

Landlords or landlord’s agents who manage HMOs must ensure that they apply for an appropriate HMO licence and comply with the licensing conditions before the grace period ends.

With the fast changing and complex regulations for private lettings, we recommend seeking expert advice to avoid being penalised, or have your licence suspended.

If you’d like to find out if your property is impacted by the rule changes, then I encourage you to call us on +44 (0) 203 286 6468 or email us at to book a complimentary appointment.

You can read more details on the new Government HMO rules here.


P.S. Please share your comments below. Do you own an HMO? Do you know how the new rules will impact you? I would love to know your experiences and thoughts on this topic. I hope our paths cross again soon.

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