Licensing

Licensing is a very emotive subject.  Introduced in the 2004 Housing Act it was intended to control properties that were deemed to be a greater risk than the norm, and allow greater control of them.

Mandatory Licensing
If a property is an HMO with 5 or more occupants it has to have a Mandatory License.  Note that the criterion is occupants, not just the named tenants.  Be aware of a family of 4 allowing someone non-related to live in the property – they will create a Mandatory Licensable HMO.
The license will last for 5 years, and will have to be renewed.

Additional Licensing
It is possible for the Local Authority to apply for non-Mandatory Licensable HMO’s to be licensed.  This is known as Additional Licensing.
Because properties of 1 or two unrelated occupants are not HMO’s, and 5 or more are Mandatory Licensed, it follows that Additional Licensing only applies to HMO’s of 3 or 4 occupants.

  • Minimum Room Sizes
    Any HMO License (Mandatory or Additional) issued after October 1st 2018 must have the following conditions:-

– sleeping accommodation for 1 person over 10 years old must be a minimum of 6.51 m2 (70 ft2)

– sleeping accommodation for 2 people over 10 years old must be a minimum of 10.22m2 (110 ft2)

– sleeping accommodation for 1 person under 10 years old must be a minimum of 4.64 m2 (50 ft2)

– Therefore any room under 4.64 m2 (50 ft2) cannot be used for sleeping accommodation.
Note that any property that previously had a license now not meeting these conditions will be given an 18 month license in an attempt to meet the new criteria.

– Additional Requirements
Any licensable HMO must:

– have a written agreement (AST)

– need to reference all tenants

Selective Licensing
It is possible for a Local Authority to decree that all non-HMO’s in a specified area need to be licensed.  This is Selective Licensing.

Challenge Licensing

  • If your property meets the criteria for a Mandatory License it cannot be challenged.
  • Additional and Selective Licensing are collectively known as Discretionary Licensing, it is at the Discretion of the Local Authority whether to consider introducing it.
  • The only ways of challenging are at the consultation stage, and then within 3 months of a scheme being agreed.  Note that this latter challenge can only be done by a legal challenge which can be extremely expensive.
  • If the Local Authority are requesting you to do something to meet the license conditions that can be challenged via the First Tier Tribunal ,they cannot legislate on the introduction of a Discretionary Scheme.

Penalties for not Licensing

  • No section 21, or court proceedings;
  • Unlimited fine;
  • Your Tenants can claim back the rent paid to you (max 1 year).

Useful reading

When Licensing and HHSRS were introduced in the 2004 Housing Act there was a lot of confusion over the requirements for fire safety, as the guidance in the Act was very poor. The regulatory body to co-ordinate Local Authorities LACORS (Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services) (now defunct) wrote an excellent guide for fire safety guidance.  Although now getting out of date it is still generally referred to by Local Authorities and the First Tier Tribunal.

The body that took over from LACORS, the LGA (Local Government Association) has produced a guide to fire safety in purpose-built blocks of flats.  The current version can be in the documents section, but is generally expected to be revised following the unfortunate circumstances following the Grenfell fire. 

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