Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
Mandatory Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation
The Government has introduced a scheme for the compulsory licensing of all larger HMOs in the Housing Act 2004. The Government has decided that all HMOs of 3 storeys and over, housing 5 or more persons, with some sharing of facilities must be licensed. As of 6th April 2006, all landlords and property agents who let large houses in multiple occupation need to apply for an HMO licence. From 6th July 2006 landlords and agents who fail to apply for a licence may face fines of up to £20,000, a criminal record and potentially rent repayment orders. Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed has to apply to the Local Authority for a Licence. The Local Authority must give a Licence if it is satisfied that:
- The HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the proposed licence.
- The proposed Licence holder is a 'fit & proper person'.
- The proposed Licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold the Licence.
- The proposed manager, if there is one, is a 'fit & proper person'.
- The proposed management arrangements are satisfactory.
- The person involved in the management of the HMO is competent.
- The financial structures for the management are suitable.
The Council can refuse to issue a Licence if any of the above requirements are not met. Landlords can appeal against decisions by the Council to refuse a licence, to attach conditions to a Licence, to revoke a Licence, to vary a Licence, or to refuse to vary a licence. Appeals will be heard by the Residential Property Tribunal, and these must be lodged within 28 days of the Council's decision. The Residential Property Tribunal Service's website includes details on how to appeal the Councils decision.
The Council will set conditions, attached to all HMO Licences. Contravention of HMO Licence Conditions will be a criminal offence, attracting a fine of up to £5000 per offence on conviction. The Licence will stipulate the maximum number of people that can occupy each HMO. Allowing a licensed HMO to be occupied by more than the licensed number of people will also be a criminal offence, also attracting a fine of up to £5000 per offence on conviction. The Government has decided that all HMOs of 3 storeys and over, housing 5 or more persons, with some sharing of facilities must be licensed. This form of Licensing is termed 'Compulsory Licensing', and the above provisions apply.
In addition, the Government has given Local Authorities the option of introducing 'Additional Licensing', whereby Councils can choose to set up a scheme requiring certain types of HMO, for instance those of 2 storeys, housing 3 or more persons to License. Rutland County Council is unlikely to require this additional licensing.
The following sites have further details on HMO licensing.