Posts with tag: shared accommodation

Mandatory HMO Licensing to be Extended

Published On: November 9, 2015 at 4:10 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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The compulsory House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing scheme is set to be extended to include two-storey homes and bungalows. It will also enforce a minimum bedroom size rule.

The new regime means that from next year, all HMOs in England with five or more occupants would be included in the mandatory licensing scheme.

Mandatory HMO Licensing to be Extended

Mandatory HMO Licensing to be Extended

The crackdown on single-storey properties is set to combat beds in sheds. The minimum bedroom size would be 6.5 square metres.

The proposal also suggests that some blocks of flats should be classed as HMOs if they have been converted to a poor standard.

At present, the obligatory scheme applies to shared rental properties of three or more storeys, occupied by five or more renters that do not form a single household.

A new consultation on the matter has opened, which proposes an extension to the mandatory scheme throughout England. It would still stick to the five or more tenants and at least two households rules.

The technical discussion document relates to comments made by the Prime Minister in May, when he announced a new mandatory licensing scheme.

The paper, released by the Department for Communities and Local Government, claims that some landlords are not just failing to operate their HMOs properly, but are exploiting renters, “and often the public purse through housing benefit, by renting substandard, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation to vulnerable tenants”.

It notes that not all local authorities have introduced their own additional licensing schemes.

It states: “Many landlords and agents do an excellent job in managing their HMOs to high professional standards, but that is far from universal.”

It adds that it has become “an increasing priority to ensure smaller HMOs are adequately protected and properly managed”.

Currently, landlords are exempt from selective licensing schemes if they let to family members. However, the Government plans to remove this exemption, as it believes it has been abused.

The document says that local authorities have spent time and money trying to establish the identities of various tenants.

The consultation closes on 18th December 2015, with the changes set to be introduced next year.

Meanwhile, local authorities are planning to introduce their own additional licensing schemes, including those that encompass large areas or even the whole city or borough, covering all rental properties.

The latest scheme is in the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham, which plans to introduce licensing to all private rental homes in one fifth of the borough.

In Blackpool, the first five prosecutions have been brought against landlords that have failed to apply for licenses.

The new consultation document can be found here:

Tenants in Houseshares at Risk from Lack of Smoke Alarms

More than four in ten tenants in houseshares are at risk due to a lack of a working smoke alarm, according to a new study.

Tenants in Houseshares at Risk from Lack of Smoke Alarms

Tenants in Houseshares at Risk from Lack of Smoke Alarms

From 1st October 2015, landlords or their letting agents have been required to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties. However, a recent survey by flat and house share website found that many landlords are not aware of the regulatory change.

Find out more about the requirements here: /landlords-and-agents-must-test-smoke-alarms-on-day-of-new-tenancy/

A study of renters living in shared accommodation conducted after the rule was enforced, found that less than six in ten (57%) are sure that they have a working smoke alarm in their property.

Worryingly, one in seven (15%) said they don’t have smoke alarms in their homes at all. A further 16% have alarms but aren’t sure if they work, and 5% don’t know if there’s an alarm in their property.

However, fire safety is not just the responsibility of the landlord; the survey revealed that 7% of tenants have removed the batteries from their smoke alarm, putting themselves at risk.

The Government believes that the regulations will help prevent up to 26 deaths and 670 injuries a year, but awareness among landlords is currently too low. A separate study of landlords by SpareRoom shows that around half (49%) are not aware of the requirement.

Director of SpareRoom, Matt Hutchinson, reports: “Fitting working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors is now a legal requirement for landlords, yet half remain none the wiser.

“Professional landlords are the most likely to be clued up on this regulatory change, but the Government will have its work cut out to educate those who don’t already have working alarms in their properties, to make them aware of the new rules.

“However, fire safety isn’t just the landlord’s responsibility. The fact that 7% of tenants have taken the batteries out of their smoke alarm is a real worry. Tenants have to do their bit to keep themselves, their housemates, and the property, safe.”1 

Landlords must keep up to date with all changes affecting the private rental sector. Find all of the latest news and updates for landlords at www.


Councils Crack Down on Rogue HMO Landlords

Published On: July 14, 2015 at 1:03 pm


Categories: Landlord News

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Councils Crack Down on Rogue HMO Landlords

Councils Crack Down on Rogue HMO Landlords

Councils around the country are cracking down on unsafe Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) after a number of successful prosecutions against rogue landlords.

Individual fines issued by the courts have reached tens of thousands of pounds, which is a warning to those that do not comply with current regulations.

One of the larger fines was to a landlord in Hatfield, Hertfordshire, who was ordered to pay over £17,000 after pleading guilty to 23 offences regarding his HMO. The charges included failing to maintain the property to a safe and satisfactory condition and failure to comply with fire safety regulations.

Other significant fines were in Barnet at £10,000, Bristol at £7,500, Cambridge at £7,000 and Lincoln at £5,700. Additionally, landlords in Dartford, Fylde, Hillingdon and Sutton Coldfield suffered penalties.

The London Borough of Barnet has now implemented an amnesty as a result. HMO landlords in Barnet who are operating without a license must apply before 31st July 2015, or face prosecution.

Camden Council is also planning to introduce new licensing rules for landlords of shared accommodation. From December 2015, a new five-year license will only be granted if minimum standards are met. Camden Council hopes that living conditions for tenants within the borough will improve as a consequence.

Lincoln Council is proposing legislation that would limit the number of new HMOs. Their plans involve requiring landlords and property owners to gain planning permission before converting a property into an HMO.







Females Living in Shared Housing Pay More Rent

Women living in shared, rental accommodation are £2,271 worse off than men, revealed data from flat and house share website SpareRoom.

The site compared the finances of male and females living in flat shares.

The research found that although women earn 7% less than men, a pay gap of £1,995, women spend £276 more on rent a year.

In the capital, the pay gap widens to £4,236. Women earn 14% less than men but pay £48 more in rent per year, leaving them worse off.

Females Living in Shared Housing Pay More Rent

Females Living in Shared Housing Pay More Rent

Around one in seven (15%) female flat sharers spend over 50% of their income on rent, compared to just 8% of male flat sharers. In London, where affordability is more severe, 17% of female flat sharers spend 50% or more of their wages on rent.

On an age basis, women in their 20s in London pay the largest proportion of their salary on rent; almost one in five (19%) spend over half on rent compared to only one in ten men.

SpareRoom also discovered that men, who pay an average rent of £511 per month, are more likely to have rent inclusive of bills. Almost half (48%) pay rent including bills, compared to 39% of women, who pay an average of £534 a month. This means that the outgoings and earnings gap is further stretched.

Just 26% of women flat sharers say that they could afford to rent alone, compared to around half (46%) of men.

This makes it unsurprising that more women are spending longer living in shared housing than men. Over a third (34%) of female flat sharers in their 30s have lived in this type of property for more than five years, compared to only 22% of males. In the capital, this rises to 37% of women and 24% of men.

The research also reveals that male renters are more likely to live in larger properties; 30% of male flat sharers live in bigger households, of four or more people, meaning bills are typically cheaper. Only a quarter of female flat sharers live in these households.

Men are also more likely to live in rental accommodation that does not have a living room; 29% of male flat sharers in their 30s compromise on a living room, compared to 19% of females.

Director of SpareRoom, Matt Hutchinson, comments: “With such a defined salary gap between the sexes, it’s no surprise women are flat sharing for longer. In spite of it being 2015, women are still earning less than men, but they don’t get a discount on their rent for being female.”

Hutchinson advises: “One result of this affordability burden is that 12% of female renters don’t ever expect to be able to buy homes of their own. If homeownership feels like a distant dream, there are a few ways you can lower your rent to help you save. Consider living in larger house shares. As a general rule, the bigger the property the cheaper your rent and bills are likely to be.

“Living as a lodger can also save you money, as lodger rents are usually cheaper. We’re increasingly seeing young professionals who have managed to get on the property ladder choosing to rent out their spare rooms to make ends meet, so, in many cases, living with your landlord won’t feel any different from living in a flat share.”1