House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing

Speaker: Elizabeth Fisher
Chambers: 33 Bedford Row

Elizabeth Fisher
Barrister
33 Bedford Row

Types of Licensing
Mandatory Licensing – The Focus
Additional Licensing
Selective Licensing

What is a HMO?
S.254 Housing Act 2004
If the Property meets either (s.254(1)):
The ”standard test” (s.254(2))
The “self-contained flat test” (s.254(3))
The “converted building test” (s.254(4))
A HMO declaration under s.255 is in force
It is a converted block of flats to which s.257 applies

What is a HMO?
The Standard Test- S.254(2)
One or more units of living accommodation, not consisting of a self-contained flat(s)
The living accommodation is occupied by people who do not form a single household
Their only or main residences, or treated as occupying it
The use of living accommodation is the only use of that accommodation
Rents are payable
Two or more of the households living there share one or more basic amenities or the living accommodation is lacking in one or more of the basic amenities

What is a HMO?
Self-Contained Test – s.254(3):
A part of a building meets the self-contained flat test if—
(a)it consists of a self-contained flat; and
(b)paragraphs (b) to (f) of subsection (2) apply (reading references to the living accommodation concerned as references to the flat).
Self contained – see s. 254(8)

What is a HMO?
The Converted Building Test – s.254(4)
Converted building;
Contains one or more units of living accommodation that do not consist of a self-contained flat or flats;
Living accommodation is occupied by persons who do not form a single household (see s.258) ;
Occupied by them as their only or main residences or may be treated as occupying it as so (s.259);
Living accommodation is the only use of the accommodation; and
Rents are payable.

What is a HMO?
Declarations:
If a Local Authority is satisfied that one of the above tests are met and that the occupation of the living accommodation (by more than one household) constitutes a “significant use” rather than a sole use of the Property, then they can issue a declaration that a house is in multiple occupation

s.257 Applies – Converted Blocks of Flats (CBF)
”Converted block of flats” = building or a part of a building which has been converted into and consists of self contained flats (257(1))
Applies to CBF if:
The building work undertaken in connection with the conversion did not comply with the appropriate building standards and still does not comply; AND
Less than 2/3s of the self-contained flats are owner-occupied

Does the Mandatory Licensing Scheme Apply?
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (prescribed Description)(England) Order 2018
Occupied by five or more persons;
Is occupied by person living in two or more separate households; AND
Properties which meet the standard test, self-contained flat test or converted building test;

How to Apply for a Licence?
Apply to the Local Authority
Ss.63-68 HA2004 and the Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupations and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions)(England) Regulations 2006
Likely to include a fee!

Consequences
Criminal Offence;
Fines – s.72(6) and (7);
Rent Repayment Orders;
Prohibition on serving s.21 Notices – s.75.;
Banning Orders
Being placed on the rogue landlord database.

Rent Repayment Orders (“RRO”)
A rent repayment order (RRO) requires repayment, of rent or housing benefit or housing costs element of universal credit paid in respect of a tenancy or licence, by a landlord/agent
Housing Benefit or Housing Costs Element of UC
12 months

Rent Repayment Orders (“RRO”)
Application is made to:
The First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) or
The Local Housing Authority.
Using the appropriate form (Form RRO1)
Pay the fee

Relevance
Over 130,000 unlicensed rental properties in London
There are considerable benefits for a tenant
Issuing proceedings is not precluded under the current Coronavirus Legislation – There is no need to wait!

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