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New housing rental rules to protect thousands of tenants

In a bid to rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants new rental housing rules have come in to place this month.

In a bid to rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants new rental housing rules have come in to place this month.

Extending licensing to 170,000 more properties will help protect at least 850,000 more people in privately rented homes from poor living conditions and overcrowding according to the Ministry of Housing.

The new rules require all landlords who let out a property to 5 or more people (from 2 or more separate households that share facilities) to get a licence from their local housing authority. Previously to this ruling, only properties of 3 or more storeys were applicable but now all properties will be covered.

The government recognises that the vast majority of landlords provide decent accommodation, but unfortunately there are those that don’t and the tenants at the mercy of these landlords are the ones who suffer the consequences. Landlords must accept that they have responsibilities to uphold and flouting of these responsibilities will not go unpunished.

Under the new rules, all bedrooms must be at least 6.5 square metres and councils must ensure tenants have suitable space to store their rubbish outside homes.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said:
“Everyone renting a home has the right to expect it is maintained to a decent standard.”

“Extending licensing to 170,000 more properties will ensure people benefit from better quality accommodation across the country.”

Approximately 60,000 ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) are currently licensable but because of these new rules a further 170,000 will require licences from October 2018. In terms of how many tenants this will benefit, an estimated 4 million people live in private rented homes, and now at least 1.1 million who are in licensable HMOs will benefit from the protection provided by HMO licensing.

Advise for Landlords

According to the
Before a landlord gets a HMO licence, they must prove to the council they are a ‘fit and proper’ person and the property is of a suitable standard for the number of residents.

Councils can put in place conditions about how the HMO is managed.

See advice on applying for a HMO licence.

All HMOs with any number of storeys that have 5 or more tenants, who aren’t related, and who share facilities like kitchens or lavatories, will require a licence from today.

Landlords should speak to their council about getting a licence, or they could face enforcement action.

If the HMO already has a licence under a local authority ‘additional or selective licensing’ scheme, then the landlord will not need to apply for a new licence until it expires.

The rules came into force on 1 October 2018.

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