Letting agents with long memories will remember that David Cameron (remember him?) announced three years ago plans to register and licence landlords.
It turned out he didn’t mean anything of the sort, but it got a lot of us in the industry quite hot under the collar for a little while – and I won’t repeat exactly what some of the less diplomatic members of the civil service said about it at the time – what he actually meant was that rules concerning mandatory licensing of HMOs were to be changed.
We then endured contributed to a ‘technical discussion’, following by a consultation. Not to mention a referendum, and then a general election after which Mr Cameron was no-longer in charge and some thought the policy may be residing in the long-grass just behind Number 10’s infamous Rose Garden.
But no, three years on it’s not only back, but Heather Wheeler MP has laid regulations for the change to be implemented in October 2018. You can read them here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/221/pdfs/uksi_20180221_en.pdf although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
So after all this time, the net effect looks to be that from October landlords will need a licence if their HMO houses five or more people, forming two or more households – regardless of the number of storeys in the property.
It will also bring flats above or below commercial premises into the scope of licensing.
Interestingly, regulations regarding minimum room sizes, which were included in the succession of consultations, and other new mandatory conditions on waste are still to be passed.
As per the Government’s response to the consultation, it intends for the new requirements to be introduced in two phases.
There will be a 6 month grace period where licences will be required but enforcement action will not be taken. However, Section 75 of the Housing Act 2004 will remain in force meaning that any Section 21 notices issued will be invalid if the HMO is unlicensed.