The rules come into effect today and will impact nearly 80,000 landlords.

New licencing requirements that are set to hit 160,000 buy-to-let properties come into force today.

Anyone letting properties to five or more people from at least two different households is required to have a Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licence.

Landlords who fail to comply face an unlimited fine or the local housing authority could impose a financial penalty of £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

Housing minister Heather Wheeler said earlier this year: “Everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live.

“The new guidance for landlords will further protect private renters against bad and overcrowded conditions and poor management practice.”

Why is this happening?

The new regulations are part of a government crackdown on rogue landlords renting out sub-standard and overcrowded properties.

The Government said HMOs were typically occupied by some of the most vulnerable people in society, and many of the properties were not built for multiple occupation, leading to greater fire risks.

Previously, landlords who rented properties that were at least three storeys tall and had five or more tenants from at least two separate households were required to have one of the licences.

The new rules mean the licensing requirements will apply to all properties, regardless of how many floors they have.

They also set out minimum size requirements for bedrooms in HMOs, while landlords will also have to adhere to council refuge schemes to reduce problems with rubbish.

Above: Four-bedroom terraced house on Ballater Road, London

Who does it affect?

The Government estimates the new rules will affect around 160,000 properties.

And research carried out for the Daily Mail by Cebr, suggested around 77,000 individual landlords would be impacted.

It said they would pay £495 per property for one of the licences and spend around three hours on paperwork to obtain it.

Overall it expects obtaining licences will cost landlords £79m, rising to £95m including the cost of complying with the new rules relating to rubbish disposal.

While the new requirements further increase the administrative burden and costs for landlords, they are good news for tenants living in sub-standard housing, as they increase the action councils can take against rogue landlords.

What’s the background?

The extended HMO licensing requirements come into force at the same time as new eviction rules for people with tenancies pre-dating October 2015.

From today, so-called section 21 evictions rules will apply to nearly all tenancies in England, not just those which started or were renewed after October 2015.

The new rules allow landlords to evict tenants on an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST), which applies to most tenancies taken out since 1997, for any reason as long as they give them two months’ notice and complete the correct paperwork.

They can also only serve a tenant with notice after they have been in the property for at least four months, while they must use a particular form, known as Form 6A.

Landlords with tenancies pre-dating October 2015 will also be barred from carrying out so-called retaliatory evictions, when they serve notice to a tenant within six months of an improvement notice or emergency remedial action notice being served by a local authority.

Martin Roberts gives his top tip for property investment:

Top 3 takeaways

  • More than 160,000 buy-to-let properties need a new licence from today
  • Anyone renting properties to five or more people from at least two different households is required to have a Houses in Multiple Occupation licence
  • Landlords who fail to comply face an unlimited fine or a financial penalty of £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution

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