Government to crackdown on overcrowding in rented homes

by Gary Whittaker

The government has announced new legislation aimed at curbing overcrowding in private rented homes of multiple occupancy (HMOs). 

A range of new powers will enable councils to take enforcement action against rogue agents and landlords who house too many tenants in an HMO. This will include the capacity to impose fines of up to £300,000 on landlords who persist in breaking the law. 

The new rules, which are due to come into effect on October 1st, will set a number of clear legal parameters that are measurable and quantifiable, and with which landlords must comply. 

Among them is a requirement that the floor area of any room in an HMO used for sleeping by any person over the age of ten is no less than 6.51 sq m, while for two people the required minimum is 10.22 sq m. For a child under ten, the floor area must be at least 4.64 sq m. Any smaller area cannot be used as sleeping accomodation at all. 

When the sleeping arrangements for a tenant or one of their children fails to meet these minimum space requirements, councils can give landlords a maximum of 18 months to rectify the situation.

Junior Housing Minister Heather Wheeler said the law is designed to tackle "a minority of unscrupulous landlords who profit from renting out cramped and sometimes squalid or dangerous properties".

"Today’s measures will mean landlords must provide adequate space for their tenants or face a hefty fine. It is part of a raft of new powers for councils to crack down on rogue landlords and comprehensive action we are taking to improve conditions for private tenants.”

The new regulations will be the latest piece of legislation aimed at curbing the activities of rogue landlords and driving up standards in the private rental sector. 

Last month, the the Residential Landlords' Association hit back at claims from Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn that not enough regulation was in place to tackle rogue landlords.

It said there has been an "almost constant drip" of new legislation coming from Westminster and argued that many problems arise simply because councils across Britain are not using the powers they already have. 

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22-March-18Legal News