Measures to improve overcrowded and dangerous living conditions of private tenants in shared homes have been introduced by the Conservatives.
Councils are being given tough new powers to tackle the small minority of rogue landlords who rent out overcrowded properties and impose fines of up to £30,000 for those landlords who do not comply.
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From October councils will be able to set minimum bedroom size standards and also introduce limits on how many people can live in each bedroom of a licenced multiple occupancy home. Councils will be able to use national minimum standards or apply even tougher requirements in order to address specific local needs.
This move will help ensure tenants have the space they need and deserve as well as reduce health and safety risks they face by sharing cooking and washing facilities with too many people.
The new standards will apply to all landlords seeking new licences. Landlords of existing properties will be given up to 18 months to make necessary changes when re-applying for a licence when it expires.
In a move to stop rubbish piling up outside some shared rented homes, often presenting health risks and blighting neighbourhoods, landlords will also be required to provide adequate waste storage facilities in line with their local authority’s rules. If they fail to do so they could face a fine.
These latest measures build on wider government action to drive up standards in the private rented sector by tackling bad landlords. This includes the launch of a new database of rogue landlords and introduction of banning orders for the worst offenders.
Minimum space requirements:
Rooms used for sleeping by 1 person over 10 will have to be no smaller than 6.51 square metres, and those slept in by 2 people over 10 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 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.
Extended scope of mandatory house in multiple occupation licensing:
National mandatory licensing currently only applies to houses in multiple occupation that have 3 or more storeys and occupied by 5 or more people. It is being extended to cover one/two storey houses in multiple occupation which are occupied by 5 or more people.
The government has re-affirmed the need for councils to provide comprehensive and frequent household waste collections which are free at the point of use. Councils should not seek to impose backdoor waste charging of residential properties, including houses in multiple occupation.