Do I need a HMO license to rent my property?

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  • Do I need a HMO license to rent my property?

We are asked this question on a regular basis. We are surprised when we speak to landlords that they do not have one. They are also not aware that they must have a license for their property. It still amazes us today that landlords are not aware of the requirements.

We recently spoke to a landlord who has let their property through another agent being a three-bedroom flat. However, he did not know he needed a licence.  The flat was in Hove, but it was over two floors, so they needed a licence. She was not aware that she had to have a license for the property and the agent had not told her.

She was not aware that any rent she received from the tenants before she had a licence needed to be repaid. This is because she does not have a licence to rent the property out.

There is no defence to this. It is something that she had to go back to the previous letting agent to discuss it with them.

HMO.

Do not be fooled to think that licenses only relate to HMO’s. This is not the case. The Government must approve scheme before the local authorities can put them in place. You will often find that these schemes do involve HMO’s ie. Housing of Multiple Occupation or students. But it is not always the case. Councils can decide to do selective licensing within their area. They use selective licensing to improve housing stock within the city or town. But they can also use it to ensure that certain areas are not used by students etc.

Brighton and Hove last year decided to do selective licensing scheme. This related to all property with three or more tenants. They have now extended the scheme throughout the whole of Brighton and Hove. If you rent a property out to three people and it is over two floors, you need a licence. They must be unconnected ie not a family. It has now been extended that you will also now need planning permission.

I am a landlord and I appreciate I need a license, but I am not going to bother, what is the point?

We can give an example of what the issues will be. A landlord in High Wickham who let out an unlicensed property that was also in need of repair was fined £4,083.00. Following this was ordered to pay costs of £500.00 and a victim fare charge of £166.00.

On top of this the tenants were entitled to claim through the court all rent that he had received from having an unlicensed property. There is no defence to this.

The landlord had done the following:

  1. Failure to license a house
  2. Had seven breaches of the management of houses in occupation (England) regulations of 2006 regarding conditions.

The breaches were as follows:

  1. Failure to display the name, address, and telephone number of the managing agent within the property.
  2. To replace the missing handle to the kitchen window.
  3. Failure to provide locks on the doors to all letting rooms which could be operated from within the room without a key.
  4. To provide adequate fire protection to the loft hatch and cupboard beneath the stairs which held the utility meters and consumer units.
  5. Failure to replace the missing external door handle.
  6. To repair a large hole in the external kitchen wall.
  7. Failure to maintain the garden in a safe and tidy condition.

The items outlined above may seem small. The context of having an unlicensed property though is massive. It is important to understand what your legal requirements are. You must ensure you understand what you need to do.

Brighton has a website that you can check if you need one. All you must do is put the details in. If you are unable to work out what the criteria, why do not you contact us. We will do it for you. If you do not wish to be exposed or fined. Did you know that the council can stop you renting your property? They can stop you from having a licence.

Are there requirements for HMO’s?

Yes, there are. There are a lot of requirements which the council will need, such as the following:

1) Washing facilities.

Dependant on the amount of people within the property. This will then set number of baths, showers and hand basins required. Some properties require toilets and bathrooms to be a certain size.

2) Kitchens.

There will be some form of kitchen required, not more than on one floor and suitably located in the accommodation.

The kitchen will need to be equipped with some form of the following:

1) Sinks with draining boards.

2) Adequate supply of cold and hot water.

3) Installation or equipped with equipment for cooking food.

4) Electrical sockets

5) Adequate work tops, preparation of food.

6) Cupboards for storage of food or kitchen utensils.

7) Refrigerators. With an adequate freezer department.

8) Appropriate refuse storage and dispose facilities.

9) Appropriate extractor fans.

10) Dining facilities. This is dependent on the size of the house.

There are very tight and stringent room sizes for properties. There are minimum room sizes. They relate to shape and floor to ceiling height offering adequate living space.

In respect of the floor area where the ceiling is 1.5 meters or higher will be counted. Room sizes are whether they are self-contained or non-self-contained.

We can help in this regard.

  1. There will be individual bathrooms required.
  2. Landlords must provide the name and address of any manager at the property.
  3. The landlord must have a property tenancy agreement laid out in respect of the property and to give a copy of the tenancy agreement within 28 days of the council requesting.
  4. As the landlord you cannot over crowd the property.
  5. The landlord must ensure that there is a reasonable utility supplies at the property.
  6. The landlord must ensure that there are smoke detectors and carbon monoxide at the property.
  7. You must ensure as the landlord that there are adequate and appropriate fire precaution facilities at the property. This is one of the most important. This will come under the health and fire safety. There is a guide called lacors which you should refer to. This has all the requirements in it.  This can be very expensive. They will also need fire doors together with door stops. It will be best in this instance to have a fire risk assessment carried out. Then you will know what your property required.

Heating.

It must have an adequate means heating that should be able to reach at least between 21 – 22 degrees.

Furnishings, furniture, and fittings.

Furniture and furnishings should be supplied if appropriate.

Energy efficiency.

In energy efficiency the landlord must show that the property is being energy efficient in records with the EPC.

Property management.

The landlord must provide full details of the property management in relation to the property.

Property inspections.

The landlord must show that they have carried out regular property inspections. We often find with landlords who have HMO’s they do not understand that this is the case and have never carried out an inspection. As such you are technically in breach of the license.

Waste and Recycling.

Landlords must supply details of the waste and recycling that is due in respect of the property and when it is due to be collected etc.

Anti-social behaviour.

You must ensure that there is adequate information within the tenancy agreement to deal with any anti-social behaviour and hat the procedures are.

You will see from the above that the details of the requirements for licensing are quite stringent. It is important that you understand what licencing requirements there are. This can be in any area with the local licencing rules and regulations. The consequences of penalties can be quite severe.

If you require advice and want to know what your legal requirements are then do not hesitate to contact us. We are fully adverse and update to date with all the requirements. We understand what the local authority in Brighton requires but also what the government do. At Harringtons we have monthly meetings with our solicitor. They work on the law commission who advise the government in this area.  We specialise in giving landlord advice in Brighton and Hove on this. Please read our previous article on Mandatory licensing across the country (click here).

Why not contact us on 01273 724000 to discuss the requirements or advice you wish to obtain.

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