Facade of opulent British Victorian Edwardian terraced flat in red bricks in Chelsea, London.

Facade of opulent British Victorian Edwardian terraced flat in red bricks in Chelsea, London.

The government has announced new minimum space requirements for private lettings in order to tackle the issues of overcrowding.


Over the Christmas period, the government has released details on long-discussed proposals to tighten up licensing in the private rental sector. The changes mean that any landlord in England, who is letting a property to five or more people from at least two different households, will require a license.


Under these plans the maximum number of people who can occupy a room would be specified in the property’s license. It also means that flats and one and two-storey properties will be brought within its scope.


The Department for Communities and Local Government has also now specified minimum room sizes for HMOs to be let privately.


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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 he different rooms must be the same as the number of persons for whom the property is suitable to live in.


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


In a statement accompanying the proposals, the DLCG 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.


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