HMO licensing rules change on 1 October

Published: Friday, 31 August 2018

Landlords of properties that have five or more occupiers in two or more households will need to have the mandatory Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMO) licence in place by 1 October 2018.

Landlords reminded of new law changes for HMOs
HMO licensing laws change on 1 October

There is an ongoing commitment by Havering Council to tackle criminal landlords so tenants live in safer and better accommodation

It is part of a co-ordinated approach to tackle significant and persistent anti-social behaviour as a result of increasing evidence of poor management within HMOs.

The new regulations include if:

  • the landlord has five people sharing a flat or bungalow
  • a family of four have a friend living with them
  • there are two families totalling five or more people sharing a property

The rules come into force nationwide on Saturday 1 October and if a landlord is not licensed by then or has not applied for a licence, they will be committing an offence and could face the following actions: 

  • prosecution
  • the Council can serve a financial penalty notice for up to £30,000
  • tenants can apply for the First Tier Tribunal for a rent repayment order and claim back up to 12 months’ rent

To find out about getting the right licence and how to apply, landlords can visit www.havering.gov.uk/landlordlicence

The Council’s HMO Additional Licensing Scheme, which started in 12 wards across the borough earlier this year, requires private landlords of HMOs with three or more tenants to apply for a property licence.

A scheme was introduced to tackle the poor management of private rented homes, overcrowding and anti-social behaviour.

Since March this year, criminal landlords have been fined over £166,000 for letting out unlicensed HMO’s and sub-standard housing which includes two fixed penalty notices totalling £20,000 issued to one landlord for operating an unlicensed HMO in serious disrepair.

In April, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) notified Havering’s Private Sector Housing Team of a fire in a three- storey HMO in Harold Hill. Following an investigation carried out by the Council in partnership with the LFB confirmed that the fire alarm system was defective and had not been working for some time.

One of the key conditions of a HMO licence is that effective fire detection is maintained in proper working order. As this was such a serious breach, a Financial Penalty Notice of £5,000 was issued to the licence holder and the Council is currently reviewing the status of the licence.

Councillor Viddy Persaud, Cabinet Member for Public Protection and Safety, said: “There is a high demand for housing in the borough and there is a need to target those irresponsible landlords who are taking advantage of local families and individuals by providing overcrowded and poorly maintained HMO properties.

“A series of joint agency enforcement visits by our officers have revealed a number of overcrowded and filthy conditions in unlicensed HMO’s in Havering. The Council will not tolerate this exploitation and intends to actively enforce our licensing scheme to track down and punish those landlords that breach the law.

“The changes are there to protect vulnerable tenants and ensure landlords comply with regulations and don’t act outside of the law.”