Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)

 

Following the lifting of the most recent Covid-19 restrictions on 2nd December 2020 the Prime Minister has announced that West Sussex including Arun District has been placed under Tier 2 restrictions. What this means generally can be found at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/tier-2-high-alert

During this period the Private Sector Housing & Public Health team will however again be undertaking some site visits and property inspections where appropriate precautions are in place including appropriate distancing measures; however, the site visit and inspection regime will be on a more reduced basis than it is normally. Most visits and inspections will require the completion and return of an “Inspection Access Declaration Form” prior to the visit, which will help the team risk assess each situation and whether a site visit or inspection is appropriate and safe to be undertaken.

Any visits arranged during the pandemic may be subject to cancellation or change at short notice if there are changes to National, local or Council-directed policy, legislation or requirements or instigation of further or additional restrictions, or where it is considered that appropriate precautions and/or social-distancing cannot be achieved (and Officers’ have the discretion to end an inspection if they believe that any breaches or precautions aren’t being met). Staff continue to work from home and have limited or delayed access to incoming and outgoing postal mail, and correspondence is best via e-mail where possible.

These changes have been made to protect customers and staff and to try to reduce the likelihood of contracting or spreading the virus during these difficult times, and although this will not be a permanent arrangement it will continue for the foreseeable future.

As well as advice on Coronavirus available via other links on the Arun District Council website, the following links may also be of particular use in regards to Housing issues: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping/covid-19-guidance-for-hostel-or-day-centre-providers-of-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection
https://www.arun.gov.uk/coronavirus
https://www.landlords.org.uk/
https://thebla.co.uk/hmo-bedsits-common-areas-coronavirus-infection-guide/

Moving Property?
A link regarding moving from/to a new property during the Coronavirus restrictions for Private Sector Tenants.
A link regarding moving from/to a new property or Halls of Residence for Students during the Coronavirus restrictions.

Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

Landlords
: New HMO applications and renewals can be made via publichealth.housing@arun.gov.uk using the form available further down on this page. The Council’s online portal will soon be available. If you have already submitted an application or renewal and you are already in contact with a specific case officer, it should be possible to correspond via e-mail with them directly to submit documents; however, it is best to check first what can and cannot be submitted via that means.

Tenants: Tenants in HMOs where there are shared cooking and washing facilities should follow the Government’s advice regarding social-distancing and self-isolating and where possible try to stick to the following guidelines:

  • Try not to use any shared kitchens at the same time as other tenants
  • Where possible disinfect kitchen surfaces, handles, white goods, etc. before and after use
  • Where possible disinfect bathroom and toilet surfaces, handles, etc. before and after use
  • Don’t congregate in shared lounges, dining rooms, kitchens or other communal spaces if possible – eat in your room if you have to
  • Don’t congregate in gardens or yards
  • Don’t have visitors over to visit and don’t move between other tenants’ rooms and your own within the building
  • Try to maintain a 2-metre distance from other occupants

It is understandably difficult to take these precautionary measures; however, this is the way to help reduce your potential exposure to Coronavirus or passing it to others who may be at risk of contracting it.

 

Did you know….

  • It is a criminal offence to operate a licensable HMO without a valid licence and landlords may face prosecution, receive a Civil Penalty Fine or a reduced licensing period in consequence of any breach found
  • ALL properties must meet the required standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation as outlined in the Council’s HMO Standards March 2019
  • Representatives from the Council will be proactively seeking out HMOs within the district

If you suspect an HMO is operating without a licence or are concerned about the standards of an HMO, please contact our investigation team via

Email: publichealth.housing@arun.gov.uk or by calling Arun Direct on 01903 737755

 

An HMO is:

  • An entire house or flat which is let to 3 or more tenants who form 2 or more households and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
  • A house which has been converted entirely into bedsits or other non-self-contained accommodation and fit the above criteria.
  • A converted house which contains one or more flats which are not wholly self-contained and is occupied by 3 or more tenants forming 2 or more households.
  • A building which is converted entirely into self-contained flats if the conversion did not meet the standards of the 1991 Building Regulations and more than 1/3 of the flats are let on short-term tenancies.
  • The property must be the tenants’ only or main residence and should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence, and the same will apply to properties which are used as domestic refuges. 

For more information, see the HMO government information.

 

HMO Licensing

If you own a property which meets all of the following criteria, you will need a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licence:

  • The property is rented out and
  • There are 5 or more occupants from 2 or more households, and
  • The occupants share cooking, bathroom or toilet facilities.

Licences are issued in order to raise and maintain the minimum standards of accommodation and the management of these properties. They are mandatory and failure to obtain the correct licence is a criminal offence which may result in prosecution with an unlimited fine. The licences are valid for up to 5 years and subject to a licensing fee; see the ‘Licensing Fee’ section below.

 

Property Type

In order to determine what fire safety measures or facilities the property requires; the property type first needs to be established based on the mode of occupation.

There are two categories the mode of occupation can fall within; ‘Shared houses’ and ‘Bedsit-type Shared houses and Bedsits’. The type of property will ultimately be identified by the case officer based on documentation submitted, occupation and the property inspection.

Please ensure you correctly identify the type of property you are proposing to license to ensure that there are no hold-ups to the licensing process. Incorrect identification may lead to delays issuing a licence, as well as further costs, due to the Local Authority requiring additional items to be installed to comply with the Council’s Standards, National Standards and Fire Safety guidance.

 
Shared houses

This is for properties where each occupant has their own bedroom but there is a communal kitchen for use by the occupants and no cooking facilities within the room. Bathrooms and/or WCs would generally be in a communal area and shared with other residents. There may also be a shared lounge or dining room. For the purposes of the license, shared houses are described as HMOs where the whole property has been rented out by an identifiable group of sharers such as students at the same University or work colleagues as joint occupants where their employer rents the property on their behalf as part of their work contract. There is a single joint tenancy agreement inclusive of all the occupants named individually on the agreement. This would not include “head tenancies” or “Company lets” where the company is not the occupants’ employer.

Bedsit-type Shared houses and Bedsits

A bedsit-type shared house or bedsit is typically a room with facilities for sleeping, eating, cooking and the storage of food within it, but alternatively there may be shared cooking facilities or a mixture of the two. It may also contain personal washing facilities (wash hand basin and/or shower) but will generally involve shared bathroom/WC with other residents. Each bedsit or letting will be let to separate individuals who will live independently, with little or no communal living between tenants. Each letting will have its own individual tenancy agreement. This would include “head tenancies” or “Company lets” where the company is not the occupant’s employer.

In all cases the number of people who can occupy a property and individual room will be dictated by the number of shared and individual facilities, size of bedrooms and size of shared communal rooms such as lounges and dining rooms. Room size requirements are detailed within Arun District Council’s HMO Standards Document.

 

Licensing Fee

The fee structure is based on the number of occupants regardless of property type (i.e. Shared houses, bedsit-type shared houses or bedsits) with a base fee for five-person occupancy and then an additional fee per person above five.

(If there is a fully self-contained let within the house (all amenities are within the letting for exclusive use by that room) no fee is payable for that let). 

The licence fee is split into two parts:

Part 1. Application Fee payable upon submission of the application. (Note that this fee is non-refundable whether a licence is successfully granted or not or if the applicant withdraws the application subsequent to submission).

Part 2. Issue Fee payable upon the successful completion of the Consultation Period and prior to the full HMO Licence being granted. This fee must be paid prior to the Licence being granted and issued and failure to pay it will result in the Licence not being issued and leaving the property unlicensed. Unlicensed properties are liable to legal enforcement action.

Please note that if a payment is made for the incorrect number of people or upon inspection it is found that the number of occupants that can be accommodated is fewer than the number applied for no refund will be payable. Additionally, the fee is not refundable once a licence has been issued (e.g. if a property is converted to single occupation during the licence period).

It is your responsibility to ensure that the property conforms to Arun District Council’s HMO Standards and does not exceed the maximum number of allowable occupants.

 

Part 1 Initial Application 5-person base fee- Payable at time of application: £955

Part 1 Each additional occupant – Payable at time of application: £50 per person

Part 2 Licence Issue Fee - Payable prior to the Full Licence being issued: £235

Please contact Arun Direct on 01903 737755 to pay the fee(s) via debit or credit card, quoting the property address as the reference.

Fees will be reviewed from time to time to ensure they reflect the full cost of administering the licensing arrangements.

 

More information and useful documents

If you believe your property requires an HMO licence, please download and complete this Mandatory HMO Licence Application Form v. May 2020.pdf [pdf] 422KBIt must be returned to us with the appropriate fee before we can action the request. If you would like any more advice or you are still unsure whether you require a licence, please contact us on 01903 737755 or email publichealth.housing@arun.gov.uk.

 

All properties must meet the required standards for Houses in Multiple Occupation which are detailed in the Council’s HMO Standards June 2020.pdf [pdf] 823KB. If you have any queries regarding minimum standards or HMOs please contact the Council on 01903 737755 or email publichealth.housing@arun.gov.uk.

 

All HMOs require a Fire Risk Assessment. The national fire safety guidance usually applied to HMOs is LACoRS and you should consult with a Fire Risk Assessor to ensure a suitable and sufficient Fire Risk Assessment is carried out periodically.

 

Properties already licensed with Arun can be viewed on the public register.

 

Useful Coronavirus links: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping/covid-19-guidance-for-hostel-or-day-centre-providers-of-services-for-people-experiencing-rough-sleeping

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection

https://www.arun.gov.uk/coronavirus