Landlord HMO room size appeal dismissed

A judge has dismissed an appeal against rooms being too small to rent on the owner of a property in Brighton. 

National legislation setting a minimum bedroom size of 6.51 metres square for one person in Licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) became law on 1 October last year.

Licensing conditions to increase the size of two rooms in a property in Hanover were imposed by the council following an inspection earlier this year. 

The rooms were found to be below the mandatory size and conditions were added to the licence asking the landlord to enlarge the rooms.

No discretion over minimum room size

At an appeal against the conditions bought by the landlord, the tribunal judge said that the court had no discretion to permit the use of rooms below the minimum size.

The tribunal struck out the appeal on the basis that there were no reasonable grounds for it to succeed

The ruling confirms there is no legal discretion to allow use of rooms in licensed properties which fall below the statutory minimum size.

The rooms will now need to be enlarged or re-arranged, or the council will consider revoking the landlord’s HMO licence, resulting in the owner being unable to be let the property as an HMO.

HMO licensing

The Hanover property is covered by the city’s ‘Additional HMO Licensing’ scheme.

This is a discretionary scheme local authorities can introduce where certain conditions are met. It covers properties of two or more storeys with three or more tenants sharing facilities and living there as more than one household.

Additional licensing was introduced to a number of areas, including Hanover & Elm Grove, in 2014 to improve property conditions and management standards of private rented housing in those areas.

It was expanded city-wide in March 2018 following the success of the scheme in improving conditions.

All HMOs let to five or more people who form two or more households and share facilities have to be licensed under national mandatory licensing rules.

Minimum room size regulations apply to premises licensable under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004, as a mandatory condition of the licence. This covers the national mandatory licensing and any local additional licensing schemes. 

As any existing HMO licences come up for renewal, the minimum size conditions will be imposed.

Improving standards in private rented accommodation

Councillor John Allcock, chair of the council's Housing Committee, said: “I’m really pleased that the tribunal has upheld the conditions. 

“Everyone has the right to a decent standard of housing and this decision confirms that the minimum room size really is the minimum people should be living in.

“Private rented housing makes up more than 31% of the city’s housing and is a vital source of accommodation in Brighton & Hove. 

“Our existing licensing schemes aim to raise standards across the city’s privately rented homes and have already ensured thousands of properties are better managed and safer for residents. 

“Without our additional licensing scheme, we wouldn’t be able to apply the room sizes regulations. It helps us ensure tenants in the city can live in safe, well-managed and decently-sized homes.

“We are committed to working alongside our Green Party colleagues on a range of measures to further drive up conditions and standards in private rented accommodation for residents in our city.”

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