Flats

Government reveals new minimum room sizes for HMOs

The government has announced new minimum space requirements for private lettings in a bid to reduce problems of overcrowding.

In addition to its announcement over the Christmas holidaysrevealing new rules for HMOs – meaning the national mandatory licensing currently only applying if properties are three or more storeys, will be changed so flats and one and two-storey properties will be brought within its scope – the Department of Communities and Local Government has also specified minimum room sizes for HMOs to be let privately.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres.

Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

The HMO licence must specify the maximum number of persons (if any) who may occupy any room and the total number across the different rooms must be the same as the number of persons for whom the property is suitable to live in.

These new requirements have yet to be made law; measures to make them law are expected this spring.

In a statement accompanying the proposals, the DCLG said: “The increased demand for HMOs has been exploited by opportunist rogue landlords, who feel the business risks for poorly managing their accommodation are outweighed by the financial rewards.

“Typical poor practices include: overcrowding, poor management of tenant behaviour, failure to meet the required health and safety standards, housing of illegal migrants and intimidation of tenants when legitimate complaints are made.

Tenants are sometimes exploited and local communities blighted through, for example, rubbish not being properly stored, excessive noise or anti-social behaviour. Although only a minority of landlords the impacts of their practices are disproportionate, putting safety and welfare of tenants at risk and adversely affecting local communities.

“They cause much reputational harm to the HMO market and it is often pot luck whether a vulnerable tenant ends up renting from a rogue or a good landlord.”

The government says its new proposals follow a consultation which received 395 responses.

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