Rogue landlords are being accused of packing too many tenants into their properties in a bid to maximise their profits.
But new regulations are coming into force on 1 October 2018 for all landlords, to make sure they no longer let rooms that are too small.
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Minimum room size to change
The rules will apply to bedrooms in houses of multiple occupation, where a bedroom used by one adult must be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, or 70 square feet.
At the same time, bedrooms used by two adults will have to be at least 10.22 square metres, or 110 square feet.
Meanwhile, rooms slept in by children aged 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.
To comply with the new rules, landlords will have to stop letting rooms that fall below the national standard. Any landlord defying them could face criminal charges.
If they are currently found in breach of the new law, landlords will have up to 18 months to rectify the situation.
During the drafting of the proposals, the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government, previously the Department for Communities and Local Government, said: “The increased demand for HMOs has been exploited by opportunist rogue landlords, who feel the business risks for poorly managing their accommodation are outweighed by the financial rewards.
“Typical poor practices include overcrowding, poor management of tenant behaviour, failure to meet the required health and safety standards, housing of illegal migrants and intimidation of tenants when legitimate complaints are made.”
Maximum numbers per bedroom
It will also be mandatory for the licences for houses of multiple occupation to include a condition on occupancy. It will need to state the maximum number of people who may occupy each bedroom.
However, the new mandatory conditions will not affect existing licences. They will only apply to licences granted on or after 1 October 2018.
The new regulations follow a series of changes for landlords in recent years, including stamp duty increases and a reduction in tax relief.
Further regulatory changes are expected with the government currently consulting on long-term tenancies.
The government believes that introducing longer-term tenancies of three years would help curb so-called ‘revenge evictions’. This term is used to describe evictions against tenants who complain about the state of their homes.
The three-year tenancies are expected to have a six-month break clause, which would allow tenants and landlords to exit the agreement if needed.
What do you think of the regulations? Let us know in the comments below.