HMO LICENSING IN CROYDON - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
A "House(s) in Multiple Occupation", or "HMO" is defined as any house occupied by 3 or more persons not all of the same family, of which the house is their only or main residence.
In 2006, Licensing of HMOs (administered by Local Councils) came in to place in the UK in an attempt to tackle some of the badly run HMO properties.
There are currently 2 Types of HMO Licensing schemes in operation within the UK:
Mandatory Licensing - Only for HMOs that are occupied by 5 or more persons and are 3 or more storeys in height, in which tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities. This is applicable across the UK.
Additional Licensing - For HMOs of any size. This is only applicable only in Certain Areas of the UK that have chosen to take up the scheme.
CROYDON COUNCIL OPERATES AN ADDITIONAL LICENSING SCHEME ACROSS THE BOROUGH, meaning that an HMO of any size in Croydon will require a License.
**UPDATE** - Additional HMO Licensing in Croydon has lapsed - meaning that any new HMO (or current HMO without a License) that does not meet the criteria for Mandatory Licensing, should now apply for a standard Croydon Private Rented Property Licence instead. It is not currently known if or when Croydon Council will reinstate the Additional Licensing scheme.
What criteria needs to be met in order to obtain and keep an HMO License from Croydon council?
HMO Properties in Croydon fall under the definition of "Category A Houses" under the housing act 2004 - and have their own minimum space requirements. For a typical HMO with separate bedrooms for tenants that share facilities (kitchen and or bathroom) then a minimum of 10m² space is required per room for 1 person and 15m² for 2 sharing (not taking in to account kitchen or bathroom facilities that may be present in the room).
Aside from this, there are various other criteria for Natural Lighting, Artificial lighting, Ventilation (windows), Water Supplies, Washing facilities, cooking facilities, Heating, Waste disposal and Fire escapes.
These may sound complex and intimidating, but they are mostly common sense - the only specifics that are truly relevant are:
Fire Doors are installed on all rooms, including the kitchen
1 Bathroom / Shower room for every 5 sharers
1 Kitchen for every 5 sharers (Multiple sets of facilities such as oven, sinks, etc within 1 Kitchen space may be adequate for over 5 people)
Location of Kitchen should not be more than 1 floor away from any rooms occupied by the persons for whom they are provided (exceptions can be made where there is adequate dining space in the kitchen)
Electrical equiptment and furniture are kept in safe condition
Smoke Alarms are installed and in working Order
A Written Statement of the terms of the License is supplied to all tenants
Means for escape from Fire must be kept free from obstruction and maintained in Good repair
Water Supply and drainage are kept in good, clean working condition
The Manager's Name, Address and Contact telehone number should be made available to each occupant (usually on display in a communual area)
Will I need Planning Permission?
In some cases, yes. The Planning department and HMO Licensing are 2 separate entities, so obtaining an HMO License does not imply that Planning has been granted. As with the case when altering any property, it is always best to check with Planning first. Where there are 7 or more units / rooms, then planning will be required.
How much will it cost?
The Fee, payable to the Council, is £240 per letting room or £270 per self contained unit with more than 1 room. The minumum License Fee therefore being £720 (For a 3 room HMO). The License lasts for 5 years. Renewal is slightly reduced at £220 per letting room and £240 per self contained unit with more than 1 room.
Who obtains the License, the owner or the Manager of the HMO?
Either can Apply for and be given the License - but the key thing to remember is that a License can only relate to 1 HMO and cannot be transferred to another person. Therefore it is unwise for an owner to let the Manager (if they do not manage it themselves) obtain the License - this being the case then should the owner change management, they would have to apply for a new License.
How Long does it take to obtain a License?
The Council are under obligation to respond within 8 weeks. As long as requirements have been met, then it should likely be sooner that this.
Is there a Fine for not obtaining a License?
Yes. There is a Fine of up to a maximum of £20,000 for failure to obtain an HMO License. However, this is the most extreme cirumstance and would generally apply if the The owner or manager of the HMO failed to obtain a License after multiple warnings to do so.
I currently run an HMO but I don't have a License - Will I get in to trouble with the Council?
No - as long as you act now! Croydon Council will not punish or fine anyone that applies for a License for an HMO that is already running - however it will need to already be HMO Compliant before you apply for a License. The key thing is to get to the Council before the Council get to you. We can advise on how to do this.
Can I ask the Council to visit my property to advise on what to do to make the Property HMO compliant?
The Council will visit the Property for an "Advisory Visit" if it is empty i.e. has no tenants in yet. For a Mandatory HMO, this Costs £350, but the fee is deductable from the License Fee once it is obtained - and For any other type of HMO this is free of charge. If the property has tenants in already, they will under some circumstances do an advisory Visit - Alternatively you can call HMOgo on 020 8654 3202 for a Free, no obligation advisory visit - and we will advise you on what you need to do before contacting the Council.
Find out more by calling HMOgo on 020 8654 3202 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, Click here for details of Fees.