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Licence conditions

This content applies to England

The mandatory and discretionary conditions attached to an HMO licence.

The local authority will attach conditions to a HMO licence. Breach of these conditions can be an offence.[1] The conditions will be similar whether imposed as part of a mandatory or an additional licensing scheme.[2]

Types of Licence condition

Licence conditions come in two types:[3]

  • Mandatory conditions must be imposed by all local authorities in relation to any given HMO licence
  • Authorities may also attach discretionary conditions as they see fit.

The conditions are intended to help local authorities ensure that houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) are of the appropriate standard and fit for purpose given the particular number of households or persons in occupation, address anti-social behaviour, and prevent overcrowding.

In general, local authorities should seek to identify, remove and remedy category 1 or category 2 hazards by carrying out duties to inspect and apply remedies under Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) rather than by applying licence conditions. However, where a hazard could be mitigated or averted by provision of equipment, they are not prevented from imposing licence conditions requiring its installation, even where action under HHSRS could achieve the same result.[4]

Mandatory conditions

Licences granted before and after 1 October 2018

Whether granted before or after 1 October 2018, the following conditions must be attached to all HMO licences:[5]

  • a gas safety certificate must be presented annually to the authority (if there is a gas supply to the house)
  • electrical appliances and furniture supplied by the landlord must be maintained in a safe condition
  • smoke alarms must be provided for each storey of the property containing living accommodation and kept in working order (for licences granted prior to 1 October 2015, the condition is only to provide and keep in working order smoke alarms in the property[6])
  • (for HMO licences granted or renewed on or after 1 October 2015 only) a carbon monoxide alarm must be installed in every room used as living accommodation in which there is a solid fuel burning combustion appliance, and kept in working order[7]
  • the landlord must provide the authority, on demand, with declaration as to the safety of electrical appliances and furniture in the property and the condition and positioning of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms[8]
  • the landlord must provide each occupant with a written statement of the terms of occupancy.

Licences granted after 1 October 2018

If an HMO licence is granted on or after 1 October 2018, it must contain all the conditions above. In addition:

  • minimum size requirements should be included for all rooms used as 'sleeping accommodation'.[9] A room is used as sleeping accommodation if it is 'normally used as a bedroom, whether or not it is also used for other purposes'[10] The particular minimum sizes specified in the licence are a matter for the local authority to decide. However, they cannot be smaller than:[11]
    • 6.51 square metres for a room used by one person aged 10 or over
    • 10.22 square metres for a room used by two persons aged 10 years or over
    • 4.64 square metres for a room used by one person aged under 10 years.

    There should also be conditions that the licence holder ensure that no room is used by more than number of persons specified in the licence and notifies the authority of any rooms smaller than 4.64 square metres.[12]

  • where the local authority has a scheme for storing and disposal of household waste generated by HMOs, there should be a condition requiring the licence holder to comply with that scheme.[13] Such a scheme might state, for example, that there must be a communal area for bins or that tenancy agreements should include requirements that tenants dispose of rubbish properly.

Where a licence has been granted before 1 October 2018, it will continue to be valid until its expiry.[14]

Where a landlord applies for an HMO licence after 1 October 2018 and it does not meet the room size conditions, s/he must be given a period of up to 18 months to comply with them - the exact length is a decision for the authority.[15] This is likely to mean making structural alterations and/or evicting tenants so that the size conditions are met. During this period, the licence cannot be revoked, no offence will be committed and no financial penalty can be imposed in respect of the breach.[16]

Discretionary conditions

Whenever the HMO licence is granted, local authorities can attach extra conditions to an HMO licence. As long as they relate to the management, use and occupation of the house, and its condition and contents, these conditions are at the discretion of the local authority. Examples of possible discretionary conditions include requiring:[17]

  • steps to be taken to prevent or reduce antisocial behaviour by occupiers or visitors
  • facilities and equipment to be in good working order and meet the prescribed standards in section 65 Housing Act 2004 about the suitability of the house (ie requiring adequate fire precautionary, heating, washing and kitchen facilities)[18]
  • any repairs or works to be completed within a particular time
  • the licence holder or manager to attend training courses on any code of practice approved under section 233 Housing Act 2004.

Other conditions may restrict:

  • (or prohibit) the use of parts of the house
  • occupation to a particular class of occupiers, where the mode of occupation by that class has a bearing on the conditions required to make the property suitable. The Supreme Court has held that this could include a condition restricting occupation to full-time students. Note, the Court also held in the same case that a licence condition restricting occupation of a bedroom to only part of a year was irrational and therefore unenforceable.[19]

Wales

The information on this page applies only to England. Go to Shelter Cymru for information relating to Wales.

[1] s.72(3) Housing Act 2004.

[2] s.61(1), s.61(3) and s.67 Housing Act 2004.

[3] s.67 Housing Act 2004.

[4] s.67(4) Housing Act 2004.

[5] sch.4 Housing Act 2004.

[6] para 1(4), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 15 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/1693.

[7] para 1(4A), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 15 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/1693.

[8] para 1(3)(b), sch.4 Housing Act 2004; para 1(4)(b), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 and para 1(4A)(c), sch.4, Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 15 Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 SI 2015/1693.

[9] para 1A, sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[10] para 1A(8), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[11] para 1A(2), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[12] para 1A(3) and 1A(6), sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[13] para 1C, sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[14] para 3.9 Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property reform: Guidance for Local Housing Authorities, MHCLG, June 2018.

[15] para 1B, sch.4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[16] para 1B(4), sch 4 Housing Act 2004 inserted by reg 2 Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/616.

[17] s.67(2) Housing Act 2004.

[18] reg.8 and Sch.3 Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 SI 2006/373, as amended by reg.12 Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007/1903.

[19] Nottingham CC v Parr [2018] UKSC 51.

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