From 1st October 2018, a property will be classed as a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) if it is occupied by more than four people from two or more separate households even if it is less than three storeys. In the past HMOs had to be three or more storeys but this distinction has now been removed.

Further, tenants may be joint tenants under one Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement (AST) but still be classed as belonging to separate households. This will therefore widen the net to cover houses rented by students.

It will be mandatory for Landlords to apply for an HMO licence prior to 1st October and landlords should also consider whether any mortgage or insurance already in existence will cover an HMO. Landlords with properties which are already licenced will be passported over to the new scheme.

Councils will specify minimum room sizes for rooms which are to be occupied as “sleeping accommodation” – which means any room that is used for sleeping, whether or not it is also used for other purposes. They are guided by Part 2 Housing Act 2004 which specifies that a room must be not less than 6.51m2 for one person over 10 years old.

Any Landlord in breach of the regulations will be liable to a fine of up to £5,000. Further, Landlords who do not comply may find themselves in difficulties in any later repossession proceedings, particularly if they try to regain possession under the “no fault” S. 21 Housing Act 1988 procedure.

More detailed guidance can be found in:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/15652/HMO_Lic_landlords_guide.pdf