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Minimum room sizes could backfire and produce higher rents

The Association of Residential Letting Agents is warning that proposals to enforce minimum room sizes in HMOs in the privste rental sector may push up rents.

The minimum room sizes have been proposed by the government - along with still further extensions to mandatory licensing and a tougher 'fit and proper person' test - in a bid to improve standards in the sector.

The regulations will amend schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004 by inserting a new compulsory condition that in order for a room to be deemed suitable for sleeping in it must meet minimum size requirements. 

The prescribed sizes are 6.52 square metres for one person and 10.23 square metres for two persons. Contraventions could trigger fines of up to £30,000 for the landlords. 

However, ARLA managing director David Cox says this could backfire. 

"Imposing more burdens on councils will not mean improved standards and better conditions for tenants; it will merely mean more laws that are not being enforced” he says.

“Further, we have to consider the unintended consequences of minimum room sizes. Some people are happy to take small rooms to keep their costs down. If these rooms are no longer available, where are people supposed to live?” says Cox.

“What’s more, if a small room in a property can no longer be let out, the costs of that room will be spread across the other tenants living in the property; pushing up their rents. A habitable room is essential but a one-size-fits-all policy doesn’t always work” he insists.

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