Further to the consultation on Residential Property Licensing reforms, which closed a year ago this month, it now looks highly likely that during 2018 minimum room sizes will be introduced as an amendment of schedule 4 of the Housing Act 2004. The schedule, (which allows the Secretary of State to include mandatory conditions in HMO licences) by inserting a new compulsory condition in every licence granted in England that local housing authorities are to disregard rooms of less than a prescribed size from being included as a room suitable for sleeping accommodation.
This means that should such a room be let or occupied for sleeping in the licensor would be in breach of the licence and commit an offence and be liable on conviction to an unlimited fine or a financial penalty of up to £30,000
The prescribed sizes are likely to be:
- 6.52 sq. m for one person
- 10.23 sq. m for two persons.
There will be certain other restrictions involving height.
These are only a statutory minimum, and Local housing authority may set higher guidance standards. During the consultation, we argued that such an action against a background of acute shortages of bedrooms in Oxford, would have two unforeseen consequences; a reduction in the availability of low cost bedroom space, and an inevitable increase in rents across the city. A recent telephone conversation with The Civil Servant responsible for managing any amendments to the Act left us less than optimistic that this amendment might have been kicked into the long grass.
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