New licensing rules for landlords

Landlords across the country will need to be licensed in order to let a House in Multiple Occupation

West Dorset District Council is keen to alert landlords to the change in legislation, which comes into force from 1 October 2018.

New legislation means that landlords who have HMOs occupied by five or more people in two or more separate households will require a licence. It also brings in mandatory conditions such as minimum sleeping room sizes, maximum number of occupants and provision of refuse facilities.

Licensing of HMOs ensures that the council’s housing team knows about properties which may present significant health risk to residents. It also gives the council evidence that shows appropriate management arrangements have been made for the property.

Licenses will be granted if the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person and is the most appropriate person to be given a licence as well as if the house is suitable for occupation by a certain number of people.

Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council’s portfolio holder for housing, said: “The changes to the regulations will drive up conditions for residents. Through the licensing process, officers will be able to advise property owners of the regulations and enforce them.”

Councils have the ability to either impose a civil penalty of up to £30k for non-compliance with licensing requirements, or to prosecute in the courts.

However, this is a last resort. The council’s housing team says it is committed to working with property owners to ensure licensing requirements are followed. Landlords who are uncertain if their property requires licensing should contact the housing improvement team.

Landlords and tenants can ask for advice or obtain an application for by contacting the team via

The cost of a HMO licence is set by the district and borough councils. North Dorset District Council, West Dorset District Council and Weymouth & Portland Borough Council have all agreed a fee of £650 for a new application and £550 for a renewal.

A 10 per cent discount is available for landlords who join the councils’ Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership or one of the three national landlord associations. Fees for members would reduce to £585 for a new licence and £495 for a renewal.

The Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership is free to join. Members benefit from seminars as well as quarterly newsletters with the latest industry news. More information about the partnership is available here.