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Housing enforcement

In December 2017 the government announced that it would proceed with extending mandatory property licensing of houses in multiple occupations (HMOs). The necessary regulations would be brought into force in October 2018.

Current mandatory HMO requirements

Since the Housing Act 2004 came into force it has been a requirement that large HMOs are licensed under mandatory licensing. Currently mandatory licensing applies nationwide to HMOs that:

  1. comprise three or more storeys
  2. are occupied by five or more people living in two or more single households and
  3. the occupiers share basic amenities such as washing and cooking facilities.

As these large HMOs are deemed high risk they are all required to be licensed regardless of where the HMO is located. Recent years have seen local authorities implement additional licensing schemes to cover smaller HMOs in an attempt to tackle poor housing conditions in the private rented sector. For example, in some areas, HMOs comprising one or two storeys need to be licensed.

The proposed changes to mandatory HMO licensing

The Housing Act 2004 allows the Secretary of State to prescribe the type of HMO that falls within the definition of mandatory licensing. The prescribed description has not been updated since 2006 when licensing under the Housing Act 2004 came into force.

The government has now decided to extend the scope of mandatory licensing to bring smaller HMOs within the scheme. Mandatory licensing will include:

  • all HMOs with five or more occupiers living in two or more households regardless of the number of storeys. Effectively this means the storey requirement will be removed from the current definition.
  • Self-contained flats where there are up to two flats in the block and one or both of the flats are occupied by five or more persons in two or more separate households. This will apply regardless of whether the block is above or below commercial premises.

This will bring certain flats above shops on high streets within mandatory licensing as well as small blocks of flats which are not connected to commercial premises. As is the case now, it is the individual HMO that is required to be licensed and not the building within which the HMO is situated.

This means that where a building has two flats and each is occupied by five persons living in two or more households, each flat will require a separate HMO licence.

Included in these changes are also prescriptive minimum room sizes.

The following are useful if you want to know more about the changes

If you require further information and clarification whether your property fall within this description, please contact our team environmental.health@towerhamlets.gov.uk or call 020 7364 5008 and ask for Housing and Health team regarding Mandatory HMO licensing.

For more information read the HMO residential property licensing guidance.

Housing and Planning Act 2016

A range of new powers under Housing and Planning Act 2016

Changes for landlords, property managers and letting agents. The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has made a number of changes to the licensing and regulation of rented properties in the private rented sector.

Civil penalties (financial penalty)

New laws have been introduced in April 2017 to give councils additional powers to deal with rogue landlords and agents under the Housing and Planning Act 2016. The new powers allow local authorities to issue a financial penalty notice to any landlords or agents who do not comply with the Housing Act 2004. 

For the first time, English local authorities will be able to impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 for a range of housing offences, including:

  • failure to comply with a housing improvement or overcrowding notice
  • failure to have the correct licence for a property that needs licensing
  • failure to comply with the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) management regulations.

Previously councils only could prosecute for the above non-compliant activities but with introducing the financial penalty, the council have additional powers to pursue any non-compliance through two routes of either prosecution, or financial penalty.

Rogue landlord databases

Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, a local housing authority must make an entry on the database where a landlord or property agent has received a banning order. They have the discretion to make entries where a landlord or property agent has been convicted of a banning order offence or has received 2 or more civil penalties within a 12 month period.

The database of rogue landlords and property agents came into force on 6 April 2018.

Visit central government's website for more on the rogue landlord and property agents register.

Greater Local Authority rogue landlord and agent checker

In addition, the Greater Local Authority (GLA) has implemented a rogue landlord and agent checker which is designed for London local authorities to input and share any information of enforcement/legal proceedings on any landlords.  

Additional records of rogue landlords and agents are also recorded via the GLA and further information can be found on the GLA website.

Banning orders

Banning orders for landlords and property agents under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 provides new powers which permit local housing authorities to seek banning orders where landlords or property agents have been convicted of a banning order offence.

Banning orders come into force on 6 April 2018.

For further information please visit the landlords and banning orders for landlords sites.

Rent Repayment Order

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 extended rent repayment orders to cover illegal eviction, breach of a banning order and certain other specified offences.

RROs were only previously available in respect of licensable but unlicensed properties and tenants were unable to lodge a claim unless the local authority had first prosecuted the landlord.

From today (6 April 2017), RRO applications can be made for a much wider range of offences including:

  • illegal eviction or harassment of occupiers
  • using violence to secure entry and
  • failure to comply with a housing improvement notice or prohibition order.

This comes into force on 6 April 2017.

For more information, visit the following sites