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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

New HMO regime for England

An estimated additional 177,000 properties in England are now subject to mandatory House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing as a result of the changes brought about by the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description) (England) Order 2018.

This legislation changes the definition used to determine whether a HMO property must be licensed. Previously, only properties of three or more storeys which met the occupation requirements for a HMO had to be licensed, but now all properties occupied by five or more persons comprising two or more families must be licensed.

HMOs in Northern Ireland

HMO properties are a large subsection of the private rented market in Northern Ireland. The current definition used to determine whether a property is a HMO is found in the Housing (NI) Order 1992, as amended. Under this definition a HMO is “...a house occupied by more than 2 qualifying persons, being persons who are not all members of the same family and for that purpose “family” includes uncle, aunt, nephew and niece.”

The simplest way to apply the HMO test is to look at the occupation of the property (or the occupation of the entire building, in the case of a property which has been converted from a single residential dwelling into flats). If there are more than 3 people living in the property, the property will be a HMO unless all occupants are related to each other, in line with the definition of “family” above. So, for example, a terraced house in which a couple live with one of the couple’s siblings is not a HMO. But, should the sibling move out and a non-related friend move in, the property now falls under the definition of a HMO.

Changes to HMO regime in Northern Ireland

Before the current impasse at the NI Assembly, policy makers and legislators had finalised a new HMO Act for Northern Ireland, which updated the definition and would have taken a number of properties out of HMO classification. The new legislation will establish a licensing scheme and powers for enforcing HMO standards will pass from the Housing Executive to the local councils.

However, as the relevant articles of the Houses in Multiple Occupation (NI) Act 2016 have not been enacted the old definition and arrangements in regards to registering properties and enforcing standards HMOs still stand.

Finding out more about the private rented sector in Northern Ireland

A detailed knowledge of the private rented sector is now crucial for advisers who regularly work with people who have housing problems. If you’d like to brush up on your skills in this area, you may be interested in our upcoming training and events.

PRS Conference – Changes, Challenges and Collaboration

We are delighted that esteemed PRS expert Dr Julie Rugg from the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York will deliver a keynote address at our upcoming conference on the private rented sector, which this year focuses on the potential for government, key stakeholders and tenants to rise to the challenges facing an increasingly relied upon sector.  

Dr Rugg’s recent report, co-authored with David Rhodes and published by the Nationwide Foundation examines a decade’s worth of changes to the private rented sector in England and assesses the impact these reforms have had on low-income households.

The Private Rented Sector

This one-day course provides advisers with a comprehensive understanding of PRS, including HMO issues and focuses on how to assist clients who need advice at each stage of the private renting journey.

Tagged In

Legislation, Outside NI, Private Tenancies

This article was written on 11 October 2018. It should not be relied on as a statement of the current law or policy position. For help with housing issues please contact our helpline on 028 9024 5640 or use our online chat service at www.housingadviceNI.org.