When you’re the landlord of an HMO property, there are many rules and regulations, and it’s in your best interests to be aware of all of them to avoid problems further down the line. One of the most recent regulations relates to the legal requirements of HMO room sizes.
While you may think it’s enough to have a pleasantly decorated property in a good location, the law is aimed at ensuring all tenants have an acceptable amount of living space. Nobody has to live in cramped conditions!
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The legal requirements relating to HMO room sizes were introduced from 1st October 2018. HMO licences issued on or after this date must include conditions relating to the minimum floor areas for bedrooms. Prior to this, there were no statutory standards for room sizes.
The Housing Act 2004 required the local authority to be satisfied the property was suitable for occupation by the pre-determined maximum number of households or tenants. This led to many local authorities developing their own guidelines on HMOs to prevent too many people from sharing.
Minimum bedroom sizes
The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation Regulations 2018 set out the exact sizes of the rooms to bring uniformity to the occupancy of HMOs, instead of relying on the local councils’ individual views.
The current guidelines stipulate the minimum bedroom floor areas as follows:
- 6.51 square metres for one person over the age of ten years
- 10.22 square metres for two people over ten
- 4.64 square metres for one child under ten
- Any room with a floor area of less than 4.64 square metres can’t be used for sleeping accommodation
- Any floor area of a room where the ceiling height is less than 1.5m can’t be counted towards the minimum room size requirements
The property’s licence holder must notify the local authority if any room in the HMO has a floor area smaller than 4.64 m2. The new legislation in 2018 amended the Housing Act 2004 Schedule 4 Mandatory Conditions in England.
Does the law apply nationwide?
Similar legislation in Scotland governs sleeping accommodation within an HMO, stipulating that every bedroom or living room should be large enough to accommodate a bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers at the very least.
The legislation in Scotland requires a single room for one adult to have floor space of at least 6.5 square metres, while a double room housing two adults must have a minimum of 10.5 square metres. A family room for two adults and children under ten years old needs 10.5 square metres of space, plus an extra 4.5 square metres per child.
The Welsh Housing Quality Standard 2016 also bases the suitability of a property for multiple occupants on its bedroom sizes. A property with three bedrooms, comprising two doubles with more than 10 square metres of floor area and one single with a minimum of six square metres, is classified as being suitable for five people. A five-person dwelling must also have a dining room with floor space of seven square metres and a lounge of at least 16 square metres.
The new Northern Ireland HMO Regulations 2019 stipulate bedrooms must be a minimum of 6.5 square metres in size.
Penalties for non-compliance
While the regulations have caused some disquiet UK-wide in cases where landlords have not been able to rent rooms that are deemed too small, they have been introduced for the well-being of tenants and to improve social housing conditions.
It is crucial that landlords fully understand the HMO legislation and ensure their properties comply. Penalties for non-compliance with the Housing Act 2004 and its associated legislation can be severe. They can include an unlimited fine, a rent repayment order, a banning order, the confiscation of goods or property and even imprisonment.
If you’re concerned your rooms are small, ensure they are measured accurately. Even HMO rooms that are compact can still be furnished well to make them comfortable for tenants. When looking into HMO furniture, make sure the layout of the room makes the most of the available floor space.
For high-quality furniture packages, contact Let Us Furnish if you’re planning to furnish your HMO properties. Clients are requested to send a floorplan with dimensions so we can work out a suitable quote in line with your budget and target market.