Four week countdown: the mandatory HMO licensing rules change on 1 October 2018. Are you ready?
With just four weeks to go until the mandatory HMO licensing rules change across England, London Property Licensing is publishing the third of six weekly updates to raise awareness of the new licensing requirements and help landlords to prepare.
On 1 October 2018, the mandatory HMO licensing scheme is being extended to most Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are occupied by five or more people who are not all related and where there is some sharing of facilities. The scheme was previously restricted to properties that were three or more storeys in height.
One of the few exemptions will apply to multi-occupied self-contained flats within purpose built blocks where the building comprises three or more self-contained flats. The government have decided to exclude such properties from the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.
What supporting documentation will I need to accompany my application?
In this third article, we explore the type of supporting documentation that may be required to accompany your licence application. We say ‘may’ be required as every council has a different licence application system and the requirements can vary considerably.
With the deadline for submitting licence applications just four weeks away, this part of the process can take some time to organise so now is the time to prepare.
Most councils require an estate agent style floorplan showing the layout and size of rooms within the property. Plans should also be marked up to show the fire precautions – fire doors, smoke alarms, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, etc. Whilst your property may not require the complete list of fire precautions, you need to show what is currently provided.
Gas Safety Certificate
Almost every council will require a copy of the latest Landlord gas safety certificate completed by a Gas Safe Registered contractor. The certificate must be dated within 12 months and you can read our free guide to gas safety here. If the certificate lists remedial work, make sure it has been completed.
Electrical Installation Condition Report
Within all HMOs, it is a legal requirement to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). The certificate must be dated within the last five years and you can read our free guide to electrical safety here. It is important that you act on any faults that present a safety risk – usually coded as C1 or C2. Some councils insist that a copy of the EICR is provided with the application whereas others say it must be provided on request.
Fire alarm test certificate
Having a suitable mains wired fire alarm system is just the start of the process. It must also be properly maintained. You may be asked to provide an installation or test certificate from a competent fire alarm engineer within the last 12 months.
Emergency lighting test certificate
Whilst not all HMOs will require emergency lighting, if it is installed it must be properly maintained. You may be asked to provide an installation or test certificate from a competent fire alarm engineer within the last 12 months.
Whilst some councils will be satisfied with some or all of the above, others will require a more extensive list. In preparing licence applications for clients throughout the London area, we have come across councils demanding any of the following:
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Portable Appliance Testing Certificate
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) criminal record check
- Sample tenancy agreement or copy of tenancy agreement for all tenants
- Management contract
- Property inventory
- Asbestos report
If your council have not yet published their list of essential supporting documentation, we would recommend you contact them today as the application deadline is fast approaching.
Bexley and Enfield Councils are taking steps to get the message out
To help raise awareness about changes to mandatory HMO licensing, Bexley Council have been posting out leaflets, published a newsletter and provided information in libraries. They will be organising a landlord forum in October.
Meanwhile, Enfield Council are launching an awareness campaign this week including articles in local papers, mailshots to landlords and letting agents, social media promotion and publicity through ‘Our Enfield’ which goes out to every household in the borough.
How to find out more
The London Property Licensing website contains a free guide to the property licensing schemes in every London Borough. Simply click on ‘Select borough’ at the top right of the page to check the rules in your borough.
A free guide to mandatory HMO licensing which is relevant to landlords and letting agents across England and can be found here.
A number of events are being held in September where landlords can find out more about the changes to mandatory HMO licensing. Details can be found in our London events guide here.
Need help? Several companies that offer a licence application handling service in the London area can be found in our Landlord Suppliers Directory here. With demand running at a high level, anyone wanting applications prepared before 1 October is urged to act now to avoid disappointment. The directory also contains fire safety specialists that can install and test fire alarm and emergency lighting systems.
This is the third in a series of six weekly updates that are being published to help explain the changes to mandatory HMO licensing that come into force on 1 October 2018.
For all the latest news and events, you can sign up for the free London Property Licensing newsletter here.