LANDLORDS who have to register Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) under new legislation can now do so through the Reading Borough Council website.
New rules which extend the requirement to register HMOs to smaller properties came into force this week.
Property landlords are being encouraged to visit the web page at http://www.reading.gov.uk/hmo now and apply for their licence online as soon as possible. New applications need to be applied for online and only in exceptional circumstances will paper applications be accepted.
Currently, properties must be licensed as HMOs if they are three or more storeys and are occupied by five or more people forming two or more households and where there is some sharing of amenities.
The new rules in force from 1st October state that a licence is required for HMOs of any size, where there are five or more people forming two or more households and where there is some sharing of amenities – thereby removing the three-storey criteria.
The new regulations also state that flats in multiple occupation where there are five or more people forming two or more households in a block comprising up to two flats will be licensable. A purpose built flat occupied by five or more people in a block comprising three or more flats will not need a licence. This means mandatory licensing will apply to purpose-built flats, such as those above shops, but will not apply to purpose built blocks of flats, such as tower blocks.
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licence) (England) Regulations 2018 also introduces minimum room size standards for HMOs from 1st October to standardise the rules across the country.
The new national room size standards for shared accommodation are a minimum floor area of 6.51m sq. for a single person aged 10 years or over and 10.22m sq. for two occupiers, however, Reading’s standard will remain at 10.5m sq. The minimum floor area for under 10s is 4.64m sq.
Cllr John Ennis, Lead Councillor for Housing, said:
“The changes in the law for HMOs means an estimated 3,000 landlords in Reading will require a licence for their property for the first time.
“It is essential that property landlords check the new regulations and take action if they now need to register with the Council. We are expecting thousands of new applications to come in so would ask landlords to act quickly.
“It is the landlord’s responsibility to register their property and enforcement action will be taken if a licensable HMO is found operating illegally without the appropriate licence.”
The Council has welcomed the changes to legislation which will enable officers to:
• Check whether the landlord is a fit and proper person to manage the property
• Assess the standard of management of the property, including fire safety
• Carry out physical inspections of the property
• Assess room sizes and facilities
• Set conditions to ensure tenants have the landlord’s details and know the maximum number of tenants allowed
Fees are charged for new HMO licences which are usually valid for five years and these can be found on the Council website. Licence renewals are charged at a reduced rate.
Details of the new regulations and forms to apply for an HMO licence can be found at http://www.reading.gov.uk/hmo