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Extending mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and related reforms

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Introduction

This paper sets out options for extending the scope of mandatory licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO). It also sets out our proposals to streamline the HMO licensing process to reduce red tape.

We plan to introduce these changes during 2016.

Background

The Government values the private rented sector. It is an important part of our housing market, housing 4.4 million households in England.

It wants to support good landlords who provide decent well maintained homes and avoid unnecessary further regulation on them. However, certain parts of the sector, particularly at the lower end, house some of the most vulnerable people in our society who do not have access to alternative housing. These people are sometimes housed illegally and unsafely in HMOs.

In his speech of 21st May the Prime Minister announced the Government’s intention to “crack down on the unscrupulous landlords who cram houses full of illegal migrants, by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime”.

Whilst this was said in the context of an immigration speech, it marks the Government’s commitment to raising standards in HMOs more generally, so they are a safe place to live in and do not blight the neighbourhoods in which they are found. We know there are a number of landlords who do not simply fail to manage their HMOs properly, but positively exploit their tenants and often the public purse through housing benefit, by renting sub-standard, overcrowded and dangerous accommodation to vulnerable tenants.

The Government is determined that good landlords who work hard for their tenants and comply with the law should cease to face unfair competition from the rogue landlords, who ignore the law and their obligations.

Our paper Tackling Rogue Landlords and Improving the Private Rented Sector (August 2015) complements these proposals and sets out the enforcement tools the Government proposes to make available to authorities so they can more effectively clamp down on the rogue landlords that operate within the private rented sector.

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