Guide to HMO Licensing

Why does HMO licensing exist?

The purpose of licensing for HMOs is to ensure that shared residential accommodation within the Private Rented Sector is well managed, safe and of a high quality for tenants.

HMO licenses exist to keep tenants and residents safe and to make sure landlords follow all the right requirements when renting out a property to multiple people.

Licensing Types

There are three different licensing schemes in England and Wales and below we will summarise the difference between each type.

  1. Mandatory HMO licensing
  2. Additional licensing
  3. Selective licensing

Mandatory Licensing

Applies nationwide for HMOs occupied by five or more people or where the tenants comprise of 2 or more households. Additionally, there are national minimum room sizes for rooms used for sleeping.

This includes:

  • shared houses and flats occupied by students and professionals
  • bedsits with shared facilities
  • properties converted into a mixture of self-contained and non self-contained accommodation. There is an exception for purpose built flats situated in a block of three or more self-contained flats

 

Additional Licensing

In England and Wales each council can decided to implement an additional licensing scheme, this is to enable them to bring more HMOs into the scope of being licensable. This normally relates to HMOs occupied by three or four people

The thing to note is that each council’s additional licensing scheme can vary and some implement additional licensing into certain streets or based on the number of occupants in a household.

To find out more information, it is always best to check out your council’s website or speak to a team member at the Private Sector Housing team.

Selective Licensing

In England and Wales, at the discretion of each council they can decide to implement selective licensing to affect all rental properties regardless of property size, number of occupants, number of storeys, number of separate households. They can implement this measure for all properties within a street, town or whole borough – it depends on the council and what they have decided to implement.

It is worth noting although some selective licensing schemes apply borough wide, it is more common for schemes to focus on specific areas or even individual streets. If you’re a landlord who rents out residential property within the area, you must apply for a selective licence unless your property already has an HMO licence

How can I check if my property needs to be licensed?

By speaking to your council and visiting their website. Each and every council’s rules can vary a lot so it is always best to double check with them.

How the license process works?

Each council’s property can vary, from paper application forms to an online process. Most applications will include supplying a floor plan, latest gas safety and electrical certificates.

Councils can also send someone to inspect the property and check that the supplied information is accurate.

Part of the process will involve paying an application fee and you will be compliant with the licensing scheme from the date you submit a valid license application – which means completing the form, paying the fee and submitting all documentation.

You can still rent out your property once you have applied for a license and as long as you have proof of submission.

What will the council take into account when granting a license?

A license can typically be granted where the below are followed however the specifics of the rules can be found on the council’s website or by speaking to a member of the Private Sector Housing Team.

  • Annual gas safety checks and certificate are up to date
  • EICR certificate is up to date and checked every 5 years
  • Property is not overcrowded
  • Fire safety measures are in place including smoke detectors, extinguishers, heat sensors and fire blankets
  • Communal and shared areas are kept in a clean and good condition
  • Appropriate rubbish and recycling storage and disposal facilities
  • Adequate washing facilities including the correct number of toilets and adequate cooking facilities
  • Emergency contact details for property manager displayed in property as well as license and gas safety certificate

The council will take the following into account:

  • The suitability of the HMO for the number of occupiers
  • The suitability of the facilities within the HMO, such as toilets, bathrooms and cooking facilities
  • The suitability of the landlord and/or the managing agent to manage the HMO (this is called the “fit and proper” test)
  • The general suitability of existing management arrangements of the property

If you are interested in converting your property into a licensed HMO, here at Titian Homes we can fully manage this process on your behalf and carry out any of the necessary works for you. Get in touch to find out more about our services.

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