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Mandatory Licensing Extends to Small HMO's

Mandatory Licensing Extends to Small HMO's

Mandatory licensing of large HMO"s with 3 or more storeys and 5 or more occupants was introduced in 2006 and it can be argued, that the aim of the legislation was to improve fire safety in these dwellings as more deaths occurred in buildings with 3 or more storeys than in 1 or 2 storey buildings and the likelihood of fire in bedsits (as many of these dwellings were) was greater.

Since 2010 when rules were relaxed, additional licensing schemes focussed on HMOs and selective licensing schemes focussed on Anti Social Behaviour problems have also become widespread. It is one such version of additional licencing which covers southern Portsmouth and Southsea and requires all small HMO"s to be licensed. This scheme was introduced in 2013/14 and ends this year.

The government now plans to extend mandatory licensing to cover any dwelling with 5 or more occupants regardless of the number of storeys, aimed at bringing smaller HMO's into the scheme.

Read on to see how this will affect you…..

Under the new regulations, any property with 5 or more unrelated inhabitants will need to have an HMO licence and to meet the standards and management levels specified.

These plans are subject to Parliamentary approval, the necessary regulations should be brought into force in October 2018. They have been subject to consultation (when we expressed our concerns).

Overcrowding is probably the biggest issue as reported in the media, and thus conveyed to politicians in the feedback from the public. When we see examples of small terraced, 2 storey houses in Newham with a family in each room and more squeezed into outbuildings, garages and sheds it is not surprising that statements that 'we cannot control it because it falls outside the mandatory licensing definition" are heeded and politicians, trying to improve the rental marketplace, react by extending the current rules to cover any property with 5 or more individual inhabitants.

The counter argument is that if more councils like Newham had been using the regulations that already exist or had introduced selective or additional licensing to address specific issues and had properly enforced them, the examples which we see in the media would not have happened. But whether this argument is valid or not is irrelevant as the new regulations change everything.

There will be 2 big changes as a result of this legislation.

Firstly, the playing field will be levelled. At the moment, if you want to create a new 5 person HMO in a 2 storey house in Southsea you need planning approval (subject to the 10% density rule) and you need to get a licence. The same property in North End still needs planning approval but no licence and the same property in Havant needs neither. These regulatory differences are reflected in the resale prices of HMO"s in each of these areas.

Under the new rules, all 3 properties will need a mandatory licence. It is likely that Portsmouth will keep its 10% density planning rule (PCS20) but otherwise it will make little difference where you site your new HMO.

Second, if all '5 or more" person HMO"s are part of the mandatory licensing scheme, is there any point in extending the current additional licensing scheme in Southsea just for the 3 or 4 person HMO"s there? Is there really enough of an issue with these smaller HMO"s (after 5 years of raising standards and solving issues) to justify another round of licensing? We would say not.

In terms of numbers, PCC believe that approx. 630 of the HMO"s currently covered by the Additional Licensing Scheme will move to Mandatory Licensing and that potentially another 1,500 will be added in the rest of the city.

For more information on the proposed changes, see:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/670536/HMO_licensing_reforms_response.pdf and 



The proposed changes to Mandatory licensing will include:
• All HMOs with 5 or more occupiers living in 2 or more households regardless of the number of storeys. Effectively this means the storey requirement will be removed from the current definition.
• Purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both of the flats are occupied by 5 or more persons in 2 or more separate households. This will apply regardless of whether the block is above or below commercial premises. This will bring certain flats above shops on high streets within mandatory licensing as well as small blocks of flats which are not connected to commercial premises.

Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.

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