With new changes to the rules governing Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) on the horizon, landlords with properties across the Ashford borough in Kent are being urged to make preparations.
From 1st October this year, all HMOs that are inhabited by five or more people comprising of two or more family units will be required to a licence in order to operate.
As it stands currently, a HMO licence is only required in the situation that a property is over three storeys high, therefore the main change will be the removal of the number of storeys from the HMO definition.
These changes can be viewed in The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018.
The Government has estimated that the changes will bring about the need for an extra 160,000 properties to be licensed in England. Ashford Borough Council is specifically estimating that up to 150 properties will need to be licensed throughout the borough.
A minimum space standard for bedrooms will also be introduced by this new legislation. The guidelines state that rooms sleeping one adult must be no smaller than 6.51m2. The rooms in HMOs that sleep two adults must be no smaller than 10.22m2. For children aged ten or younger, the rooms they sleep in must be no smaller than 4.64m2.
In the situation that these space standards are not being met, councils will be able to grant a maximum of 18 months to get the situation rectified.
As well as room size, landlords must ensure that adequate receptacles for the storage and disposal of household waste produced at the property are provided.
Landlords have until 1st October to apply for a licence. They are responsible for complying with any changes that need to be made in relation to the specification included within the order. If landlords have not complied with the new scheme by the time this period has passed, then serious penalties may be incurred, including the possibility of hefty fines and criminal prosecution.