The BBC has reopened the debate about licensing for landlords responsible for homes in multiple occupation (HMOs), with a radio broadcast looking at the dangers of licensing loopholes.
A building is designated as an HMO if, amongst other things, it has three or more storeys with at least five people living in two or more residences. If a building is considered an HMO the landlord requires a special licence.
But the BBC has heard from MPs, fire chiefs and councillors who insist that current HMO licensing rules are too lax, with significant loopholes allowing landlords to house tenants in unsafe environments.
Many landlords have turned houses into multiple residences, converting rooms into self-contained bedsits. While this is within the HMO licensing rules, many are concerned that tenants often suffer from low safety standards in homes of this kind.
The government has resisted calls for more stringent licensing of HMOS, claiming that this would deter otherwise scrupulous landlords. But the disproportionately high number of fire deaths in HMOs is likely to mean that the pressure will continue.
If you think you might need an HMO license you should contact your local authority, who will be able to offer specific advice.