Housing minister to ban small bedrooms


Get ready to lock up those box-rooms!

Over two years since the Government first consulted on the issue, Housing Minister Alok Sharma has now announced that the scope of mandatory HMO licensing will soon be extended.

Following a technical discussion paper in November 2015, and a full consultation in October 2016, the Government has announced that it will soon be seeking Parliament’s approval on regulations to implement the following proposals.

Extension of Mandatory HMO licensing

The Government will extend the scope of mandatory HMO licensing:

  • It will apply where certain HMOs are occupied by five persons or more in two or more households, regardless of the number of storeys.
  • This includes any HMO which is a building or a converted flat where such householders lack or share basic amenities such as a toilet, personal washing facilities or cooking facilities.
  • It also applies to purpose built flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both are occupied as an HMO.
  • The new rules will be introduced in two phases. Most likely, the regulations will come into force in April 2018 with a 6 month grace period for landlords to comply before enforcement action is taken against them.

Minimum room sizes in licensed HMOs

The Government will introduce mandatory conditions in licences to regulate the size and use of rooms as sleeping accommodation in licensed HMOs:

  • By prescribing the absolute minimum sizes of rooms that may be used for sleeping.
  • By introducing a mandatory licencing condition requiring local authorities to specify which rooms in an HMO are suitable for sleeping accommodation, and by how many adults and children.
  • Where a room does not meet these conditions, the local authority will be required to give the landlord a reasonable period of time to remedy the failure and during this period they will not face any sanctions for a breach of the condition (unless the breach of condition was deliberate, in which case sanctions apply).

Refuse disposal and storage facilities in licensed HMOs

The Government will introduce a mandatory condition in HMO licences requiring the licence holder to comply with their local authority scheme (if any) for the provision of facilities for the proper disposal and storage of domestic refuse.

  • These directions will prescribe the numbers and use of receptacles for the storage and disposal of domestic waste generated from the HMO.
  • They accept that the issue of rubbish collection is not within the control of the landlord and there is no intention to require landlords to perform functions which are the responsibility of the local waste authority.
  • However, securing the provision of suitable facilities for disposal and storage of refuse is, in the Government’s opinion a fair and proper responsibility for the manager of an HMO.

The Government has published its response to the 2016 consultation and you can read that here. Regulations will soon be laid in Parliament that will give fuller details of the upcoming changes.

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