5 September, 2018

Rule changes for HMOs – more landlords will need a licence

New rules come into play from Monday 1 October 2018 which will require more landlords to secure a licence for the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) they rent out.

An HMO is a property that contains more than one household. Mandatory licensing of HMOs came into force in 2006 and originally applied to properties of three or more storeys with five or more people living in them. Most licensable properties contain some shared kitchens, bathrooms or toilets.

The law is now changing and most HMOs rented by five or more people will need a licence, irrespective of how many storeys there are in the building. HMOs with up to four occupants will not be affected, nor will some HMOs which are self-contained flats within larger purpose-built blocks.

Further requirements will also come into force which will set minimum sizes for bedrooms in licensable HMOs.

The changes are being introduced by the Government to protect more HMO tenants. This will help ensure that landlords meet their health and safety obligations and do not allow overcrowding to blight people’s lives. Where an affected HMO does not have a licence, the landlord cannot use a Section 21 notice to seek possession of the property and evict tenants.

Landlords will also be required to adhere to council refuse schemes. The measure is intended to reduce anti-social behaviour associated with waste problems in HMOs. This will  help reduce their impact and will benefit neighbours and surrounding communities.

Thanet’s HMO landlords are urged to act now and apply for a licence in preparation for the new changes. Affected landlords who fail to apply for licences by Monday 1 October 2018 will be at risk of criminal prosecution and unlimited court fines. Additionally, the council will have the power to apply for a Rent Repayment Order, and will soon also have the option of issuing a civil penalty of up to £30,000.

Any HMOs already licensed under the council’s existing selective licensing scheme, and which will be subject to the new rules, will automatically be transferred into the mandatory scheme. The existing selective licence conditions will apply until the licence expires. Affected licence holders will be contacted by the council.    

For further information and advice about the changes, landlords should contact the Private Sector Housing Team at Thanet District Council on 01843 577437 or by email at: housing.licensing@thanet.gov.uk

To apply for an HMO licence online go to:


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