Local authorities still unsure how many HMOs should be licensed under new rules

New analysis claims to highlight how unprepared local councils are for the extra regulations on HMO licensing.

A freedom of information request by Simple Landlords Insurance to 90 local authorities found that 65 (72%) had no idea how many unlicensed HMOs there may be in their area, while 29 (32%) had no idea how many properties should come in under the new regulatory scheme.

Since October 1, the old HMO rules changed, and now apply to properties of any height where there are five or more sharers in two or more households.

Previously, only properties of three storeys or more were covered.

The research also found 31 (34%) councils out of the 90 had not prosecuted any landlords for infractions of existing rules in the past two years.

There were only 103 HMO licences rejected at application over the past 12 months, with a total of 18,881 licenses granted.

It echoes similar data from property investment firm Touchstone that found only a minority of local councils had an idea of how many properties would need to be licensed under the new rules.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler said at the time of the changes in October that the new rules would increase the number of mandatory HMO licensed properties in England from 60,000 to an estimated 220,000 properties.

However, Richard Truman, head of operations at Simple Landlords Insurance, said this research shows local authorities are hamstrung in their efforts to apply the new legislation, due to a combination of poor intelligence about housing stock and stretched resources.

He said: “Earlier this year, we found that 85% of landlords we spoke to weren’t aware of the looming HMO regulations. A month on from their implementation, we wanted to find out exactly what those landlords are facing on the ground.

“The changes may be well-meaning, but a failure to support local authorities to communicate about them and enforce them is bad news – for good landlords and for tenants.”

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