New HMO buy to let rules come in soon

If you’re a landlord, you need to be aware of the stringent new regime on houses in multiple occupations (HMOs) that is headed your way. If you don’t comply, you could be facing a fine of up to £20,000.

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If you have an existing license issued before 1st October 2018, the new conditions won’t apply to you until your license expires. However, from 1st October 2018, all new licenses will come under the new regime.

Who does this apply to?

The rules will apply to any HMO that has to have a license under Housing Act 2004 Part 2. The government has produced information on the changes, and there is a link to the local authority guidance book here at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-publishes-key-licensing-changes-to-further-protect-tenants.

HMO definition widened

Nearly 180,000 landlords are likely to be affected and will need to get a license despite not needing one before. This is because the definition of an HMO has been broadened. At the moment, the HMO definition involves five or more people who are part of more than one household, sharing facilities in a property that is three stories high. The provision concerning three stories is being canceled, so any large house share or flat that houses more than five people will become an HMO.

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New landlords would be well advised to use a property inventory software package from the outset to store information showing they have complied with the regulations.

Minimum room sizes are changing

The minimum size for a room is also changing, with bedrooms used by one adult having to be at least 6.51 meters square, and a room for two adults being 10.22 meters square. There are also rules for children’s bedrooms. Check with your local authority because some have stricter requirements than this.

Keeping track of information like this, especially if you own several houses, can be a nightmare. Consider using property inventory software like the Property Inventory Software available through Inventory Base to simplify the task and keep all your information in one place.

There are other requirements that need to be met under the new licenses, too. For example, you’ll need to be able to show that the house is appropriate for the number of people living there. Life is certainly getting more difficult for buy-to-let landlords.