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New mandatory HMO licensing now in place for landlords in England

With an extension of the rules bringing a wider range of houses in multiple occupation (HMO) into the mandatory licensing regime coming into effect on 1 October, landlords have just one week to apply for a licence.

Mandatory licensing for landlords in England with houses in multiple occupation (HMO) has now come into effect with concerns raised that not everyone is compliant with the new rules.

Under the new licensing requirement, from today (Monday 01 October) all properties that are let to five or more people and that are occupied by people living in two or more separate households are covered by the new rules.

Properties that fall into scope of the new definition but are already licensed under a selective or additional scheme, will be moved over to the new scheme at no cost to the landlord.

But the National Landlords Association (NLA), is concerned that despite the Government announcing mandatory HMO licensing in January, many landlords may not have applied for their licenses or been unable to do so because some local authorities are unprepared or even still unaware of the mandatory licensing for HMOs.

‘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,’ said Richard Lambert, NLA chief executive officer.

‘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,’ he explained.

‘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,’ he pointed out.

‘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,’ he added.