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Local landlord fined for failing to register HMO

Although a new HMO regime is imminent with the introduction of a new Houses in Multiple Occupation (NI) Act 2016, the current definition and requirement to register continue to apply.  Landlords need to ensure that they have complied with the current requirements and that their registration details are up to date.

Local landlord fined for failing to register HMO

Failing to comply with the statutory registration scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation is an offence and the Housing Executive can prosecute non-compliant landlords, as evidenced by a recent case in Fermanagh.  District judge Nigel Broderick imposes a £2,000 fine on a landlord who failed to register a HMO in Enniskillen. The judge also imposed an offender levy and ordered the defendant, who did not attend court, to pay costs.  

What is a HMO?

Currently, a House in Multiple Occupation is defined as “...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 .” This definition comes from Article 75 (1) of the 1992 Order, as amended by Article 143 of the 2003 Order and Section 14 of the Housing (Amendment) Act (NI) 2010. Put more simply, a HMO exists where three people from two or more families share a property.  So, a property shared by a couple and their friend is a HMO and must be registered as such with the Housing Executive.  Individual units in a converted building, which was originally built as a family home, will also be regarded as HMOs, regardless of the occupancy and must be registered.

Future change to HMO regime

The new legislation relating to HMOs will change both the definition and the requirement to register.  A HMO will now only exist where

  • three or more individuals from three or more families share accommodation and
  • this extends to sharing of some basic amenities and
  • rents are payable, or some other consideration is provided in respect of the occupation, by at least one of the people sharing the accommodation.   

The new definition also contains a wider list of exceptions than previously, meaning some properties which would currently have fallen under this definition are now excepted.  

The registration scheme will be replaced by a new mandatory licensing scheme, with responsibility for enforcing licensing and standards falling to local councils.

The relevant sections of the new legislation, which will amend the definition and introduce renewed standards and a licensing scheme have not yet commenced.  

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This article was written on 24 October 2016. 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.