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A Message to SWLA Members; Extension of Mandatory HMO Licensing by Plymouth City Council

Posted on June 15th, 2018

I am sure that you are already aware of the pending changes in the Licencing of HMO properties. Historically any property which had five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, over three storeys required a Licence which is issued by the Local Authority. From 1st October 2018, the storey requirement will be removed, and any property where there are five or more tenants forming more than one household* sharing a basic amenity, will require a licence, regardless of how many storeys the property has.

*A household is either a single person or members of the same family who live together. A family includes people who are:

  • married or living together as a couple
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings
  • step-parents and step-children

Please follow the information below to see if these HMO licence changes are relevant to you. This article is relevant in all Local Authorities, therefore if some parts are specific to Plymouth, if your let property is outside of Plymouth, please contact the relevant Local Authority for further help and advice.

We are hoping that this will be a seamless a transition as possible.


What is an HMO?

An HMO is any property occupied by 3 or more people who form more than one household (i.e. not a single-family dwelling). Please see the following link for further information


If your property is an HMO, then the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply (please see attached document for your reference)


What is a licensable HMO? – Existing Criteria

A HMO that requires a licence under the existing criteria, is a property described as a ‘large HMO’ that is occupied by 5 or more unrelated people and has accommodation that is at least 3 stories high and includes shared facilities/amenities. Please see the following link for further information on what makes an HMO;


For the criteria that makes a HMO licensable, please see;


which has been in force since 6th April 2006 and remains effective until 3oth September 2018 when it will be repealed.

If your property is a licensable HMO then the local authority standards/guidance will apply to the property. On the following link; https://www.plymouth.gov.uk/sites/default/files/LicencedHousesInMultipleOccupation.pdf

You will find our guidance and standards on levels of management required in licensable HMO’s for Plymouth. It is important to add that due to the raft of legislation changes and updates over recent times, we are currently undertaking a review of this document and will have an updated version released later this year.

Whilst there has always been the scope for any local authority to apply selective and additional licensing requirements (to encompass properties or areas that fall out of the mandatory criteria), Plymouth City Council have not adopted this approach.


What are the impending changes?

The mandatory criteria for a licensable HMO is changing so that HMO’s with 5 or more unrelated people, irrespective of the number of stories, come under the new legislation/criteria. These changes have been under consultation with the Department for Communities and Local Government since 2016. If you wish to read further information about the consultation, please see the following paper

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/houses-in-multiple-occupation-and-residential-property-licensing-reforms and Government response document



The final government response document was released on 27.12.2017 and can be found here;



When will the changes apply?

The effective date of these changes has been confirmed as 1st October 2018 in the following statutory instrument;


Through the work with our partners in the private rented sector (landlords, agencies and the University) we have been collating information on the properties that may be subject to the extension criteria. Currently we have 470 known properties that will be licensable from 01.10.2018 and have had contact from the relevant persons. This enables us to have a contact list to provide updates to so that the transition can be as smooth as possible.



What do you now need to do?

All we ask at this point is that you consider your properties to see if you have a HMO to which the changes apply. If you have a HMO property, or properties, that will be subject to the changes, please confirm this by sending an email to; communityconnections@plymouth.gov.uk

Please include the following details:

  1. The addresses of the HMO properties you have that will be subject to the extension of licensing (i.e. any property that has 5 or more unrelated tenants in residence, irrespective of storey count)
  2. Your preferred contact details (postal address, telephone and email) for further information and guidance to be sent to you.

The provision of the above information will be added to a list of properties that I am collating. This information is securely stored and will not be passed on to any 3rd parties. Once the licences have been processed to cases being opened, this database will be erased.


Any Other Business?

At Plymouth City Council, we have had a drive to move towards the modern digital age and have created an online application process for HMO licensing that is set to be available for use in submitting HMO applications from 01.07.18.

Our HMO licence fee structure has also been reviewed (last reviewed in 2012) and we will be shortly publishing the new HMO licence fee structure to come into effect, hopefully from 01.07.18. What is very good news for landlords is that the discretionary discount offered to landlords who are accredited, is increasing from £60 previously to £150 under the new fee structure.

My colleague and I recently attended the Annual General Meeting at the Future Inn and want to thank the SWLA and their members for inviting us and making us feel very welcome on the day. We do appreciate the opportunity to connect with our partners across the city and see this as a valuable opportunity to maintain and enhance relationships between the Local Authority and landlords within Plymouth. We have supported multiple events and will look to continue this, so please make sure you keep in touch with the SWLA team to identify topics you might want us to speak on.

I would like to finish by saying that we appreciate your support, particularly in respect of the extension to HMO licensing, and look forward to receiving your response at your earliest opportunity. I look forward to working together with you through these changes.

Message sent from Mark Chubb, Plymouth City Council 

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