House share landlords urged to heed new law

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House share landlords urged to heed new law

Landlords of house and flat share properties in Rother are being warned they may need a licence under changes to housing law - or risk a hefty fine.

Licences for 'Houses in Multiple Occupation' (HMOs) - required for properties occupied by five or more people who share a kitchen or bathroom and are not all part of the same family - were previously only needed for buildings of three storeys or more.

In April 2018, the law was changed so it now applies regardless of the number of storeys, but the Government allowed a six-month period of 'grace' to give landlords time to make the transition.

This ends on October 1 2018, meaning from that date the owner or manager of an applicable property of five or more tenants who doesn't have a licence will be committing a criminal offence and could face prosecution and an unlimited fine.

To gain a licence, landlords must show they are a 'fit and proper' person without criminal convictions and that the property is safe and suitable for the number of occupants.

Cllr Joy Hughes, Rother District Council cabinet member for housing, welfare and equalities, said: "This is a significant change in the law which landlords need to be aware of.

"Everyone has a right to live in a property that is safe, not overcrowded and has adequate facilities for washing and cooking, and the new regulations will give us more scope to ensure that is the case.

"I would urge any landlord who's not sure whether their property needs a licence to contact us to check, and if they do need one, to make sure they apply as soon as possible - before it's too late."

Checks carried out on licence applicants may include gas, electrical appliance and fire safety checks, background checks on landlords and examination of tenancy agreements.

Any flat within a purpose-built block of three or more flats is exempt from the law.

Landlords can get further advice or apply for an application form by contacting the private sector housing team, by emailing private.sectorhousing@rother.gov.uk or calling 01424 787550.

Published on Monday, August 13 2018

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