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Landlords across the Harrogate district are being warned about changes to the laws on houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) which come into force from next month.

harrogate council

From 1 October, the government is changing the definition of a licensable HMO, to include one and two storey properties.

It means an HMO licence will be required for all properties that are occupied by five or more people, are made up of two or more households and where occupants share basic amenities such as a bathroom, toilet or cooking facilities.

It also applies to purpose-built flats where there are up to two in the block and one, or both, meet the new definition of an HMO.

There's no grace period for the new requirements and failure to apply for a licence could result in a landlord getting a criminal record and a fine of £30,000.

All licensed HMOs must also include proper rubbish collection and storage facilities.

Stricter rules on room sizes - and what they can be used for - will also come into force.

They define what is suitable to be used for sleeping accommodation and are designed to prevent unscrupulous landlords cramming too many people into each room.

The council's private sector housing team held an information event earlier in the year to help landlords understand how the changes to the law would affect them.

The team is now reminding owners of HMOs that meet the new definition that they need to submit a licence application. The deadline is 1 October.

Landlords who don't comply will be committing an offence.

Councillor Mike Chambers, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, said:

“Landlords across the Harrogate district need to act now if they want to stay on the right side of the law from October.  Even the smallest houses of multiple occupancy need to be licenced in future.  Our private sector housing team is here to help and can provide advice to landlords. From October, we'll be carrying out checks to make sure HMOs in the district are complying with the new law."