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Minimum room sizes for shared homes announced

Words: Laura Edgar

Housing minister Gavin Barwell has announced that minimum room sizes will apply to shared homes in an attempt to clamp down on rogue landlords.

The measures are aimed at helping councils tackle problem homes head-on and prevent landlords from exploiting tenants and charging “extortionate rents to live in poor conditions”.

The government said the proposals published today for houses in multiple occupation (HMO) by setting a standard below which bedrooms must not fall.

Barwell said: “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 out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”

Other proposals aimed at assisting council in raising standards in HMOs include:

  • Ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with five or more people from two or more households, and to flats above and below business premises;

  • Requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish; and

  • Tightening up the fit and proper person test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out to weed out rogues.

The government said if a landlord failed to obtain a licence they would be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine.

Julian Goddard, head of residential at Daniel Watney LLP, warned that the suggested regulations would harm renters willing to compromise on space in order to save money. He also said the proposals don’t reflect technological changes.

"They fail to recognise the huge shifts in technology that mean we are increasingly 'asset lite'. From streaming music on Spotify to watching films on Netflix, people – especially the younger generations who seem more likely to rent – are owning less and less physical copies and relying more and more on digital services, reducing the need for storage space. Housing policy should be made for the future, not the past," said Goddard.

The consultations for these proposals can be found here.

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