General Licencing Conditions
When an HMO licence is issued (whether it is a mandatory HMO licence or an additional HMO licence) or a selective licence is granted, the local authority can attach licence conditions. A breach of the licence condition is a criminal offence attracting a fine of up to £5,000 and it could lead to the loss of the licence as well. The licence holder must therefore comply with the licence conditions; otherwise he/she runs the risk of a criminal prosecution and/or cancellation of the licence.
Mandatory Licence Conditions
Under the Act certain compulsory conditions must be attached to all HMO/selective licences as follows:
- Where gas is supplied to produce to the Council annually for their inspection a Gas Safety Certificate obtained within the previous 12 months.
- A requirement to keep electrical appliances supplied by the Landlord in a safe condition.
- An obligation to keep the furniture made available by the Landlord in a safe condition.
- The licence holder must supply to the local authority on demand with a declaration as to the safety of any electrical appliances or furniture supplied by the Landlord.
- A requirement to ensure that smoke alarms are installed in the property and kept in proper working order.
- The licence holder must supply the Council on demand with a declaration as to the condition/positioning of smoke alarms.
- Tenants/occupiers must be supplied with a written statement of the agreement under which they occupy the property (i.e. a written tenancy agreement or a written statement of terms).
- An obligation for the licence holder to take up references from prospective tenants/occupiers (only compulsory for selective licences).
As well as the compulsory conditions the local authority has power to include on the licence any conditions that they consider appropriate regulating the management use and occupation of the property as well as the condition and contents of the property. So far as is appropriate in the circumstances, these can include:
- Restrictions or prohibitions on the use or occupation of particular parts of the property (for example if a particular room is considered too small then a condition could prohibit its use as a bedroom).
- Requiring that reasonable and practicable steps to be taken to prevent/reduce anti social behaviour by persons occupying/visiting the property. This would only apply within the property or its curtilage.
- Requirements for facilities and equipment to be made available to meet the Prescribed Minimum National Amenity Standards (also see below).
- Requirements to keep such facilities and equipment in repair and proper working order.
- Where work is needed to provide facilities or equipment to meet the prescribed minimum National Amenity Standards an obligation to see the works are carried out within a specified period (for example minimum National Amenity Standards require a minimum number of bathrooms/toilets to be provided and the condition will set out what is needed and should give the licence holder time to carry out the work).
- Requirements to attend a training course.
Maximum number of occupants
The licence will also fix the maximum number of persons/households who are allowed to live in the property. Knowingly permitting this number to be exceeded is a criminal offence which attracts a penalty of up to £20,000.
Before a licence is issued the local authority must send the applicant a draft of the licence and allow a minimum of 14 days for a response with any objections/comments. This is a very important part of the licence issuing process. If the landlord is not happy with the proposed licence conditions then he/she should get back to the local authority and object in writing. Remember, however, that if it is one of the mandatory licence conditions (see above) then these are compulsory and you cannot object to them. This will also be sent to any relevant person e.g. a lender.
When sending out the draft licence the accompanying notice must set out the reasons for granting the licence, the main terms of the licence and give you details of a date by which you must respond. If, as a result of representations, the authority propose to modify the terms of the licence they must give you a further opportunity to make representations on the proposed form of licence. A similar process must be followed if the local authority are wanting to vary/refuse a licence.
Grant/Refusal of a licence
When the local authority actually issue the licence they must send out a copy of the licence accompanied by a notice giving the reasons for deciding to grant the licence together with the date of their decision. They must give details of appeal rights and stipulate the period within which an appeal can be made. A similar procedure must be followed where a licence is refused.
Where a licence holder considers a licence condition to be unreasonable/objectionable he/she can appeal to the Residential Property Tribunal against the local authority’s decision. There is also a right of appeal against the refusal of a licence. The appeal must be brought within 28 days. The start date for this 28 day period will be stipulated in the notice given to the landlord by the local authority. The appeal must be sent to the office of the relevant Residential Property Tribunal (not to the Council). A fee of £150 is normally payable. The landlord can ask for the fee to be remitted if you can prove financial hardship. The Residential Property Tribunal is an independent Tribunal. It cannot deal with appeals against the mandatory licence conditions as these are compulsory.
Variation of licences
There is power to ask the local authority to vary/change the terms of the licence, including licence conditions. There are also rights of appeal to the Residential Property if the local authority will not agree to this.
Our website can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.
IMPORTANT: Our website (including the Unique Property Selector) can only give general guidance. You always need to specifically check the status of any property individually and take appropriate advice including general guidance from the local authority where it is located.