HMO licensing regime
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Houses in Multiple Occupation that have to be mandatorily licensed are to include properties – regardless of height – that are occupied by five or more people from two or more households.

Currently, HMOs that must be mandatorily licensed are of three or more storeys.

The new rules, which have to be put before and approved by Parliament, will bring an extra 160,000 homes, including flats, bungalows and two-storey houses, into the mandatory licensing regime.

In a separate move, HMRC has revealed plans that would make it compulsory for any landlord applying for an HMO licence to be registered with HMRC first, for tax purposes.

In a consultation open until March 2, the move would crack down on overseas landlords letting out HMOs in the UK and also on UK landlords not paying the right amount of tax.

New rules will also come into force setting minimum size requirements for bedrooms in HMOs. As part of the licensing requirements, local councils will be able to make sure that only rooms meeting the standard are used for sleeping.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 sqm and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 sqm. Rooms slept in by children of ten years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 sqm.

Housing minister Alok Sharma has also confirmed that the blacklist of landlords and letting agents will be implemented this April.

He was, however, silent on who will have access to this blacklist. As things stand, only local councils and the DCLG will be able to access the list – not tenants, nor landlords or other members of the public, and not prospective employers hoping to avoid recruiting agents with bad track records.

The Government has however set out details of criminal offences which will automatically result in a ban from being a landlord. Convictions for crimes such as burglary and stalking will be added to convictions for housing offences resulting in bans.

Separately, Labour has announced that it will ban ‘no fault’ evictions if it comes to power. Leader Jeremy Corbyn said it would be a manifesto commitment. The Scottish government has already brought in a ban.

Source: Property Industry Eye

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