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By phoning First Contact on 01268 882200 (8.45am to 5.15pm Mon to Thurs, and to 4.45pm on Fri). 
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Houses in Multiple Occupation

Coronavirus: Everything HMO landlords and tenant need to know

This section is designed to give landlords and tenants advice on how to stay safe during the current coronavirus crisis. These are difficult times and we all need to work together to ensure our health, safety and welfare. Whilst there are concerns about our health and how to stop the spread of the virus, many also face financial worries. Please take time to read through the information below to find out more on how to stay safe and financially secure.

What to do if you have symptoms

Landlord and tenants: If you show any symptoms of COVID-19, you should follow Public Health England advice and self-isolate for seven days, or, if you live with others, the whole household should isolate themselves for 14 days.

Landlords: You should contact your tenants either by email, message or phone call to let them know you are self-isolating and provide advice on who they should contact in the event of an emergency.

Using shared space

If someone is unwell then they should minimise using shared spaces such as kitchen and bathrooms. If they need to access a shared area such as a living room then they should maintain a 2 meter separation distance where possible. Ideally they would not be using dining areas and should have meals in their rooms.

Hygiene

Kitchens and bathrooms should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after use by anyone exhibiting symptoms. However, these should be cleaned regularly as best practice for the prevention of the spread of disease in general – remember, not everyone who is ill will exhibit symptoms! Drawing up a cleaning rota for cooking and cleaning might be useful. Don’t forget other surfaces such as handrails and door handles and commonly shared items such as remote controls and telephones.

Financial difficulties and eviction

Those who have to self-isolate are being encouraged to work from home but you should be aware that for many occupiers engaged in manual labour this will not be possible and depending on their contractual arrangements they may also be at risk of losing income during this period which will affect their ability to pay rent.

What to do if a tenant is facing financial issues

Tenants may experience a period of financial hardship if they have been unable to work. This is something which might be felt for many weeks if not months. The government have already confirmed that Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) can be claimed by those who are eligible and self-isolating, even if they are showing no symptoms. Tenants can obtain the required sick note via NHS 111. To avoid lengthy queues on the telephone you may prefer to use this link NHS Isolation note

We appeal to landlords to be sympathetic to tenants’ financial circumstances and urge both tenants and landlords to find away forward together. Perhaps draw up a payment plan.

Financial help for landlords

If you are a business owner and have concerns over your tax liabilities, then you should seek advice from HMRC and their Time to Pay Scheme HMRC Tax information

Staying compliant

If your HMO property is due to have any compliance checks or work carried out, you should delay this if any of your tenants are self-isolating.

This could include:

  • An inventory report
  • A Gas Safety Certificate update
  • An Energy Performance Certificate update
  • An Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR)

If you do need to delay any of these legal requirements, inform your tenants that they will be delayed because of a self-isolation period but take steps to re-book checks as soon as possible.

You should notify us of any delays by emailing us on eh@castlepoint.gov.uk or phoning 01268 882200

Legislation

Since 1st October 2018 there have been some changes in HMO legislation and the following are now enforced:

The Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018 which introduces a tighter regime for the licensing of HMOs and the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018.

Both of these van be viewed here: HMO Legislation 2018 and HMO Regulations 2018

The new legislation does not apply to sec. 257 HMOs and flats which are larger purpose built blocks. If you are unsure if your property falls within the above, please contact eh@castlepoint.gov.uk for advice

What is a HMO?

A HMO is a term used to describe accommodation which is shared among a number of people. There are different types of accommodation such as a shared house, converted block of flats and a number of bedsits in one building.

HMO Licensing

Some HMOs require a licence which is issued by the local authority. Not all HMOs need a licence, there are some exceptions but if you meet the following criteria please contact us as it is highly likely you will need one:

  • five or more people forming two or more households
  • the people living there share or lack a bathroom, toilet and/or cooking facilities

Licensing Fees and How to Apply

The fee is £840.50 for up to five lettings and will last for a period of 5 years. The fee for each additional letting is £54.33. The form and guidance notes are available here:

Application for a Licence of a House in Multiple Occupation [pdf] 387KB

Guidance Notes for application form [pdf] 275KB

Things taken into account when deciding if a licence will be granted

An HMO must be suitable for the number of occupants and will take into account the suitability of the landlord or managing agent to manage the HMO.

Fit and proper person guidance

Conditions of having a HMO

There are several conditions which must be complied with to ensure the HMO remains a safe environment for tenants. You must:

  • Produce and annual gas safety certificate
  • Keep electrical appliances and any furniture supplied to a safe standard and be able to produce documentation confirming their safe condition to the council upon request
  • Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms

These conditions are not exhaustive and the council can impose selective licensing conditions

Will I need planning permission?

In England, unless an Article 4 Direction is in force a change of use from Use Class C4 (a small HMO) to a single house with up to six residents (Use Class C3) is covered by permitted development rights.

Please contact our planning department on 01268 882200 option 5 or planning@castlepoint.gov.uk

Electrical Safety Standards

The Electrical Safety Standards in the Private Rented Sector (England) Regulations 2020 came into force on 1 June 2020 and applies to all tenancies created on or after that date in England from 1 July 2020.

How often must I have electrical testing carried out?

As a landlord you must ensure every electrical installation in your residential premises is inspected and tested at intervals of no more than 5 years by a qualified and competent person.

Do they apply to all tenancies?

The regulations apply in England to all new specified tenancies from 1 July 2020 and all existing specified tenancies from 1 April 2021. 'New specified tenancies' is any tenancy created on or after 1 June 2020.

What do I do after the electrical test is done?

Following the inspection and testing, a private landlord must:

  • obtain a report from the person conducting that inspection and test which shows the result and the due date for the next inspection and test.
  • supply a copy of that report to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of the inspection and test.
  • supply a copy of that report to the local authority within 7 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that authority. If the local authority doesn’t write to you, you do not need to send them a copy of the report.
  • retain a copy of that report until the next inspection and test is due and supply a copy to the person carrying out the next inspection and test
  • supply a copy of the most recent report to any new tenant of the specified tenancy to which the report relates before that tenant occupies those premises; and any prospective tenant within 28 days of receiving a request in writing for it from that prospective tenant

What do I do if the report is unsatisfactory?

Where an Electrical Installation Safety Report identifies urgent remedial work or requires 'further investigation', the private landlord must ensure that the required work is carried out by a qualified and competent person within 28 days (or the period specified in the report if it is less than 28 days), starting with the date of the inspection and testing.

The landlord must then:

  • obtain written confirmation from a qualified person that further investigative or remedial work has been carried out and that the electrical safety standards are met or that further investigative or remedial work is required
  • supply that written confirmation, together with a copy of the report which required the further investigative or remedial work to each existing tenant of the residential premises within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work. You must send a copy of the report to the local housing authority within 28 days of completion of the further investigative or remedial work.

What if I don’t have an inspection or fail to carry out the required work?

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing the new regulations and can impose a financial penalty of up to £30,000 if they find a landlord is in breach of their duty.

Local authorities have the power to serve remedial notices on private landlords. If the remedial notice is ignored and action is not taken with 28 days, the local authority can arrange remedial work to be carried out with consent from the tenant, and recover the costs from the landlord.

What about HMOs?

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 previously put specific duties on landlords around electrical safety. This requirement has now been repealed, and HMOs are now covered by the new Electrical Safety Regulations.

Any HMO with 5 or more tenants is licensable. The Housing Act 2004 has been amended by these Regulations to require a new mandatory condition in HMO licenses ensuring that every electrical installation in the HMO is in proper working order and safe for continued use.

How can I find out more information?

To read a copy of the legislation, please use this link

For further guidance, please use this link

Register of Licensed HMO's

Register of Licensed HMO's [pdf] 82KB

Useful links