From the 1st October 2018, any landlord who lets a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) to more than five people must be licensed to do so by their local authority. As it currently stands, landlords only have to be licensed if the house is three storeys or higher, and has five or more tenants.
As an example, one county is writing to more than 70 landlords in the area to advise them of the new HMO regulations. West Suffolk councils of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath are hoping to make more people aware of the changes.
Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing for West Suffolk councils, said: “We want to work with our local landlords for the good of their tenants. That is one of the reasons that we set up the West Suffolk Landlords Forum earlier this year, as a way of making landlords across West Suffolk, aware of the changes that affect them and their tenants and the support and advice that we, and our partner agencies, can provide.
“These changes by the Government are welcome. They give greater authority to the council to ensure that tenants in HMOs are not being made to live in crammed, unfit or unsafe conditions.
“We expect standards to improve under these regulations and we are working with partners, including the Fire Service, and other local councils to ensure that this builds on the work that we are already doing particularly around fire safety.”
New HMO regulations come into effect on 1st October, meaning houses with less than three storeys and more than five occupants will now need a license
What happens if a landlord doesn’t comply with the new HMO regulations?
Failure to comply with the new HMO regulations could mean hefty fines for landlords. Not having a HMO license when necessary is deemed an offence under the Housing Act 2004, and could result in a fine of up to £20,000 in the Magistrates’ Court.
Councils such as that of West Suffolk could also impose their own penalties on breaches of the new regulations. This could mean a penalty of up to £30,000 per breach.
Councillor Mildmay-White added: “Ultimately, although we have these powers, we want landlords to work with us which is why we will be sending out letters to more than 70 landlords of unlicensed HMOs that we know have five or more tenants. We are also updating our website with a new HMO application form as well as a document that will give helpful information and guidance.”