The government is extending the mandatory HMO licensing scheme to cover properties occupied by five or more people making up two or more households. 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 Any landlord or agent whose HMO is required to be licensed under the new rules must return a completed application before the 1 October 2018, and failure to apply for licenses by this date is a criminal offence. As part of the extension to mandatory HMO licensing a minimum room size for bedrooms is being introduced in addition to mandatory licence conditions relating to the refuse disposal and storage facilities in licensed HMOs.
The Housing Act 2004 and associated Regulations specify certain information that must be provided within the application. All the information required within the application must be provided and all questions answered as instructed. The relevant Act is the Housing Act 2004
The HMO Regulations available here:
Why do I need a HMO licence?
Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are an important source of affordable housing for individuals who may be on a low income. However, these properties can be difficult to manage and often present greater risks than those occupied by single households. It is because of these risks to the safety and health of the occupants that HMO Licensing was introduced.
How long does the HMO licence last?
A licence will usually be issued for a maximum of 5 years, although it can be for a shorter period.
Are there exemptions from HMO Licencing?
Yes. The following types of property do not require a HMO Licence:
- Buildings controlled by public sector bodies
- Buildings regulated under another Act
- Buildings occupied by students and the person in control is the educational body
- Buildings occupied by religious communities
- Buildings occupied solely by owners
- Buildings occupied by two persons as two households
- Buildings occupied by a resident landlord and his family with no more than two other persons living with them as lodgers (part of the family)
- Certain types of property including: children’s homes, care homes, residential family centres, boarding schools or colleges which accommodate children, approved bail hostels, approved probation hostels, removal centres, prisons, remand centres, young offenders institutions, secure training centres, accommodation centres for destitute asylum seekers.
- Buildings converted entirely into self-contained flats.
Will there be conditions attached to the HMO Licence?
There will be a number of conditions attached to Licences, some of which are set out in the Act and some of which will be prescribed by the Authority on a case by case basis. The conditions that will apply to all Licences are:
- The gas safety certificate must be provided annually to the Council (where the property has a gas supply)
- All electrical appliances and installations provided as part of the tenancy must be in a safe condition;
- All furniture provided as part of the tenancy must comply with the relevant regulations;
- An automatic fire detection system is to be installed within the house and maintained in proper working order;
- A declaration, as and when required by the Authority, as to the condition and positions of such alarms;
- The tenants must be provided with a Tenancy Agreement
Authorities may also apply the following conditions:
- Restrictions or prohibitions on the use of parts of the HMO by occupants;
- A requirement that the condition of the property, its contents, such as furniture and all facilities and amenities, bathroom and toilets for example, are in good working order;
- A requirement for specified works or repairs to be carried out within a particular timescale;
- A requirement that the responsible person attends an approved training course.
Can I apply for an exemption from Licencing?
If a landlord or person having control of a property intends to stop operating it as an HMO and has evidence to substantiate this, i.e. Planning/Building Regulations applications then he or she can apply for a temporary exemption notice. This lasts for a maximum of three months and ensures that a property in the process of being converted from an HMO does not need to be licenced. If the situation is not resolved within 3 months, then in exceptional circumstances, a second temporary exemption notice can be issued. However, when this runs out the property must be licenced, become subject to an IMO or cease to be an HMO.
A landlord or person having control cannot serve his/her existing tenants with a Section 21 'Notice to Quit' to remove the property from requiring a licence. A complete licence application must be submitted and at the stage where the property is no longer licensable, i.e. there are no more than 4 persons in occupation, the licence holder must apply to have the licence revoked.
Am I committing an offence if I do not have a licence?
It is an offence to operate a licensable HMO without a licence. Upon conviction, a person may be liable to a fine of up to £20,000.
Does it affect my rent or Housing Benefit claims?
A tenant living in a property that should be licensed, but was not, can apply to the First tier Tribunal (Residential Property) to claim back any rent they have paid during the unlicensed period (up to a limit of 12 months). The Council can also claim back any housing benefit that has been paid during that same period.
What is a fit and proper person?
In deciding whether someone is 'fit and proper' the council must take into account:
- Any unspent convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud;
- Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues;
- Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination;
- Whether the person has previously managed an HMO that have broken any approved code of practice.
Applicants are required to declare such evidence and the Council reserves the right to undertake further checks.
Any personal information which you provide will be held and used by East Devon District Council for the purpose of this web form. Your information may also be shared within East Devon District Council for the purposes of carrying out our lawful functions. Otherwise your personal information will not be disclosed to anybody outside East Devon District Council without your permission, unless there is a lawful reason to do so, for example disclosure is necessary for crime prevention or detection purposes. Your information will be held securely and will not be retained for any longer than is necessary. There are a number of rights available to you in relation to our use of your personal information, depending on the reason for processing. Further detail about our use of your personal information can be found in the relevant Privacy Notice which can be accessed here.
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You will need to have a credit card in order to pay the required application fee.
You will also need to provide a plan of the HMO showing details of the facilities; sizes of rooms; fire safety etc.
You will also need to provide up to date copies of all relevant certificates which may include (a complete list is available on the application form):
Gas Safety inspection certificate
Electrical installation certificate
Electrical appliance certificate
Fire alarm maintenance inspection certificate
Emergency lighting maintenance inspection certificate
Planning consent and building regulation certificates
You will receive an email acknowledging receipt of your application and you will then be contacted within 7 working days by email or telephone to discuss your application.
You can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone us on 01395 571572 and we can send you an application and guidance documents in the post.