The Department for Communities and Local Government has announced a discussion paper about extending licensing of HMO’s in England.

Currently, mandatory licensing applies to HMO’s of three storeys  or more and five or more occupiers. Where there is an additional or licensing area designated by a local authority, all HMO’s as designated by the authority require a license. Where there is a selective licensing area, all rented dwellings in that area require a licence.

The proposals include:

  • making the mandatory licensing apply to more shared homes, including those that are 1-2 storeys;

  • ensuring rules apply to poorly converted blocks of flats and flats above and below shops, which are often exempt

  • setting a minimum size of rooms in line with existing overcrowding standards

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said:

It is simply unacceptable that people are living in cramped, unsafe accommodation provided by landlords who are more interested in a quick profit than the safety or welfare of their tenants.

The actions of these rogue landlords are helping fuel illegal working, benefit fraud, and illegal immigration by creating a shadow housing market that carries dangers to people’s health as well as communities.

The government is determined to crack down on rogue landlords and these measures, alongside those in the Housing Bill, will further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle poor-quality privately rented homes in their area.

In addition to this, there is also the Housing and Planning Bill which is going through the motions. This would see banning orders being able to be made for certain offences alongside possible rent repayment orders. A national database is proposed which will list persons who have a banning order. On the plus side, the Bill proposes an abandonment procedure that could be followed by landlords.

Comments should be made by 18 December 2015.