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Government reveals new minimum room sizes for HMOs

The government has announced new minimum space requirements for private lettings in a bid to reduce problems of overcrowding.

In addition to its announcement over the Christmas holidays revealing new rules for HMOs - meaning the national mandatory licensing currently only applying if properties are three or more storeys, will be changed so flats and one and two-storey properties will be brought within its scope - the Department of Communities and Local Government has also specified minimum room sizes for HMOs to be let privately.

Rooms used for sleeping by one adult will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by two adults will have to be no smaller than 10.22 square metres. 

Rooms slept in by children of 10 years and younger will have to be no smaller than 4.64 square metres.

The HMO licence must specify the maximum number of persons (if any) who may occupy any room and the total number across the different rooms must be the same as the number of persons for whom the property is suitable to live in.

These new requirements have yet to be made law; measures to make them law are expected this spring.

In a statement accompanying the proposals, the DCLG said: “The increased demand for HMOs has been exploited by opportunist rogue landlords, who feel the business risks for poorly managing their accommodation are outweighed by the financial rewards. 

“Typical poor practices include: overcrowding, poor management of tenant behaviour, failure to meet the required health and safety standards, housing of illegal migrants and intimidation of tenants when legitimate complaints are made. 

Tenants are sometimes exploited and local communities blighted through, for example, rubbish not being properly stored, excessive noise or anti-social behaviour. Although only a minority of landlords the impacts of their practices are disproportionate, putting safety and welfare of tenants at risk and adversely affecting local communities. 

“They cause much reputational harm to the HMO market and it is often pot luck whether a vulnerable tenant ends up renting from a rogue or a good landlord.” 

The government says its new proposals follow a consultation which received 395 responses.

Last week we reported on the consultation exercise over banning orders for rogue agents and rogue landlords; this received 225 responses.

  • James Hurst

    Seems very unfair not to take into account other accommodation provided in the house. If tenants have nowhere to go other than their room, this is quite understandable, but if they have an eat in kitchen and a separate reception room then it is unreasonable.

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    By the time you put all the essential furniture into a 6.5m sq room you really have very little usable floor space so I think on the whole an absolute minimum room size is a good idea. Though if you consider having all your worldly possessions in a room of that size and not having any other rooms to go to eat or socialise, it still seems desperately small.
    I think having a minimum room size is helpful in some respects such as consistency but not all houses are the same and in those without shared living spaces, a higher minimum room size would have made sense in my opinion, otherwise 6.5m sq is just going to be a race to the bottom.

     
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    These bedroom sizes appear to be considerably in excess of the Parker Morris Standard - abandoned for public housing as the sizes were too big - and unlikely to be met in new houses provided by the private sector which are getting smaller to keep down building costs.

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    This change is madness. We have a shortage of rented property in this country so what does the government do? It passes new rules to reduce the supply of rented accommodation. You couldn't make it up!

    If a tenant and a landlord agree on a tenancy on a small bedroom, perhaps because the tenant is on a tight budget or spends little time in their room, why should the government tell them that agreement is illegal? Have we lost all faith in the market in this country?

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