HMO stands for a house of multiple occupation and there are approximately 3,000 HMOs in Norwich. It is important to understand the differences between HMOs in order to comply with current regulations and licensing.
What is the difference between a small HMO and a large HMO?
A house is considered to be a small HMO if at least three tenants live there, forming more than one household and it has a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities shared with other tenants. A house is considered to be a large HMO if it is at least three storeys high, has at least five tenants living there, forming more than one household and it has a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities shared with other tenants.
How are HMOs regulated?
HMOs may require a licence to be granted by the Local Authority. Normally an HMO does not require a licence unless it is considered to be a large HMO. However, care should be taken as Local Authorities can impose more stringent licensing which would be required for small HMOs.
HMOs not falling within the definition of HMO or large HMO will fall within the Sui Generis use class. Most importantly, this covers HMOs with more than six tenants. The Sui Generis use class may require planning permission, rather than a license from the Local Authority.
Why do I need to know about HMOs?
HMOs which require licensing can open the possibility of enforcement action being taken by the Local Authority against the owner. This can result in fines of up to £20,000 being imposed and tenants having a claim for the return of their rent during the unlicensed period.
HMOs which require planning permission can similarly lead to enforcement action when there has been a breach of planning law. Such breaches can result in an enforcement notice being issued and, if not complied with, can lead to fines up to £20,000.
What else do I need to be aware of?
HMOs can trigger issues with Environmental Health. Other conditions may be attached if your HMO is in a Conservation Area or in a Listed Building.
You should always seek advice from a solicitor before purchasing a property which is or may be classified as an HMO or when looking to convert a property into an HMO. If you would like further advice please contact our Norwich office on 01603 677077.