The definition of a licensable House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) is changing from 1 October 2018. If you own a HMO you may need a licence from Cornwall Council and will have to make sure that you comply with various requirements.
Currently you need a HMO licence only if;
- there are 5 or more people in residence – who aren’t all related to each other and form 2 or more households
- at a property containing 3 or more storeys; and
- which has shared facilities (such as bathrooms or kitchens).
However, under the new rules far more properties will require a licence to operate as HMOs because the requirement that a property have 3 storeys before it can be a HMO is being removed. Cornwall Council have a useful tool on their website to help you check if your property will need a licence.
If you are a landlord and you let out a licensable HMO without first obtaining that licence then you may be liable for a fine of up to £20,000.00. If you had a buy-to let-mortgage you would also be in breach of the conditions of your mortgage and risk the enforced repayment of the sum borrowed from the bank.
Clearly It will be important to submit an application for a licence as soon as possible. The rule change states that you should apply for a licence before 1 October 2018 so time is running out. Cornwall Council are also offering an “Early Bird” discount on their fee if the application is made before 1 October.
It is important to note that there are additional regulations and restrictions affecting HMOs which are unique to the Falmouth area and these prescribe that any new HMO in Falmouth must have prior planning permission before it can be legally let out.
If you are considering buying or re-mortgaging a HMO it is important that you have a solicitor who understands the rules for this type of property. Nalders have solicitors specialising in conveyancing across all of our offices. To find out more, please fill in our contact form, or phone your nearest office.