With just a few days left until changes to mandatory HMO licensing are introduced, there is growing concern that many landlords of HMOs may not have yet applied for their licenses.
From Monday 1st October 2018, any rented property with five or more people living across two or more households and sharing common facilities, such as a kitchen or toilet will be classed as a HMO and require a licence.
The licensing scheme was previously restricted to properties that were three or more storeys in height.
The new rules, which the government estimates will affect around 160,000 HMOs, will mean councils can take further action to crack down on the small minority of landlords renting out substandard and overcrowded homes.
Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association (NLA), said: “The government made the announcement about mandatory HMO licensing in January, but we’re concerned that many landlords may not have applied for their licenses. We encourage all landlords to make sure they do so before 1 October to be compliant.
“It may be that landlords thought there was a six-month grace period, as was originally proposed. This is not the case and we don’t want to see anyone committing an offence through ignorance.”
The NLA is also concerned that local authorities are not prepared for, or are still unaware of, the mandatory licensing for HMOs.
Lambert added: “We have been contacted by a number of our members who have tried to apply for licenses, but the local authority has purported not to know anything about it or simply didn’t have the systems in place to process the applications.
“This is an unacceptable failing on the part of the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which should have ensured all local authorities were up to speed with the changes. It’s disappointing that more consideration hasn’t been made for the significance of this change and the challenges local authorities face in implementing it.
“Our advice to landlords who have encountered this is to apply for an HMO license using the existing process, even if the council hasn’t updated their forms.”
The guidance for local authorities on HMO and residential property reforms is available by clicking here.