A minimum room size of 6.5 square metres (70 square feet) for a rented room in an HMO has been proposed by the Government. This will only relate to properties in England and is an attempt to stop tenants being crammed into overcrowded properties.
Although The Housing Act 1985 does specify minimum floor areas, a recent tribunal case rules that the standards could be a guidance only. The Government wants to make it mandatory to help councils bring an end to landlords who exploit tenants and charge them extortionate rents to live in poor conditions.
The consultation paper also included extending mandatory licensing for HMO’s to flats above shops and other business premises, requiring landlords to provide decent storage and rubbish disposal facilities and tightening up the “fit and proper person” test to be a landlord.
Gavin Barwell, housing and planning minister, said “In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live. These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor quality rental homes in their area. By driving out rogue landlords that flout the rules of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”
In response, the Policy Director of the RLA (Residential Landlords Association), David Smith said “We agree that tackling criminal landlords must be a priority. We wait to see the full details, but powers are already available to tackle overcrowding which is about the number of people crammed into a room, not the size of a room. What is needed is proper enforcement of existing powers.”