RLA opposes HMO licensing extension

Sally Walmsley
Written by Sally Walmsley

The RLA has objected to the Government’s plans to extend its mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

In a detailed submission to the DCLG, which launched the houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing reforms consultation in October, the RLA outlined a number of serious concerns about the plans.

The consultation, which closed this week, asked PRS landlords to respond to proposals to set minimum room sizes of 6.52sqm, extend mandatory licensing to flats above shops and remove the storey rule – so that any home with five or more people from two or more households is considered a HMO, regardless of the number of floors.

It also includes requirements for landlords of HMOs to provide adequate numbers of bins for their properties and could require them to meet the new fit and proper person test laid out in the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

David Smith, RLA Policy Director said: “Councils are already struggling to enforce licensing schemes and the extension will potentially triple the number of homes under mandatory licensing.

“What is the point in introducing extra regulations if there are no resources to enforce them?

“Tenants should not be forced into excessively small rooms, but there are cases where tenants have other space available within their properties, which should be taken into account.

“By concentrating so narrowly on bedroom size the Government could knock thousands of rooms out of the sector, potentially forcing tenants out of their homes.”

The Government claims extending mandatory licensing will give councils the powers they need to tackle criminal landlords and improve conditions for tenants.

Subject to parliamentary approval the extension would come into force during 2017.

There would be a grace period of six months for landlords to familiarise themselves with the new licensing requirements.

After that penalties for failing to obtain a licence would include criminal prosecutions, fines of up to £30,000 and rent repayment orders.

To read the RLA’S full response to the consultation click here.

About the author

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley

Sally Walmsley is the Magazine and Digital Editor for the NRLA. With 20 years’ experience writing for regional and national newspapers and magazines she is responsible for editing our members' magazine 'Property', producing our articles for our news site, the weekly and monthly bulletins and editorial content for our media partners.


  • This new proposal may be a blessing in disguise for many landlords with so many councils now imposing their own standards across all hmo properties anyway. Swindon an example where they insist on a 7.5m minimum room size on any hmo regardless of the need to licence, and that is if the property also has 10m of communal space, if not, individual rooms have to be over 10m!

    The new extension would actually make Swindon’s, and many other positions unjustifiable, as I believe the national standard would over-ride their onerous local one. We currently have rooms in some areas in very nice homes that we cannot let because they are 7.2msq, we are literally turning people away that want the rooms that at a national level would be acceptable under the new extension.

    • Currently the 2004 HA requires councils to cease making regulations by their opinions and to use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) to first establish the existence of a hazard.

      After challenging a council who tried to ban small room, a cross-party scrutiny panel of councillors unanimously decided in favour of them where there was also an additional common room for the use of all residents.

      If the government fails to judge each house on its merits, it is undermining the excellent regulations that already exist in the 2004 HA.
      Banning all small rooms will not necessarily remove hazards, it will increase them by making more people homeless.


  • The government is run by rich politicians. The housing situation would be better if our tax money was spent more on housing and less on military weapons and destroying foreign countries.

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