The government has announced their intention to expand the mandatory house in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing scheme. The changes due to come into force in 2017.

Among the proposals – which apply in England only – is a removal of the current three-storey rule, and the addition of a minimum room size of 6.52 square metres for one person and 10.23 square metres for two people.

The floor measurement would be ‘usable’ and exclude any parts of the room where the ceiling height is under 1.5 metres.

Other intended measures are:

  • Ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with five or more people from two or more households, and to flats above and below shops and other business premises. Currently licensing only comes into place for homes with three or more floors and excludes homes attached to businesses, unless they are in a three-storey building.
  • Requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish.
  • Tightening up the ‘fit and proper person’ test for landlords, and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out.

Where a landlord fails to obtain a license, they will be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine. The aims of the changes are to drive out rogue landlords who flout the rules of business, and to raise standards and give tenants the protection they need. The government has indicated that the proposals will be implemented in 2017, with a grace period of 6 months for all landlords to comply.

To gain our advice on the issues in this article or any other rural planning and development matters, call Richard Edge or Alex Orttewell on 01935 852170 or email