Landlords have been welcoming the new guidance for councils on the minimum room size regulations for rented homes.
The guidance, published
by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, on Houses in Multiple
Occupation (HMOs) and residential property licensing reforms, defines the sanctions
for breaching minimum room sizes, as:
- knowingly permitting the HMO to be
occupied by more persons or households than is authorised by the licence;
- failing to comply with a condition of
the licence such as a prohibition against occupation as sleeping accommodation.
Whilst the RLA believes that tenants should never face
overcrowded or substandard accommodation, it was concerned that the
changes could have seen councils required to take action against landlords
where a tenant gave birth and as a result there were two people in a room
sized for one.
If they sought to evict during this scenario, they’d be carrying
out unlawful discrimination, and the new guidance sets out guidelines to make
clear that this will not happen. For example, in section 3.6, the guidance
notes: “We would expect that in common with general prosecuting functions, a
local housing authority should only proceed with a prosecution if it is in the
public interest to do so.”
Plus, the guidance also notes, that: “A reasonable period for
compliance must be allowed in certain circumstances (see 3.7 and 3.8)”. The
maximum period for landlords to comply with regulations that councils can
specify is 18 months, however this can be shortened depending on the
Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said: “We warmly welcome this new
guidance. It reflects considerable work between the RLA and the Government in
addressing serious concerns about the consequences of the room size changes.
“The Government has clearly listened to our concerns and this
document should provide much greater assurances to landlords and tenants