Best place to find information and services that your council provides...
Since 1 October 2018, the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) mandatory licensing scheme no longer applies only to properties with three storeys or more, with five or more tenants.
Under the new regulations, the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Prescribed Description)(England) Order 2018, it is mandatory for all multi-occupied properties to be licensed where there are:
The property no longer has to have three or more floors. Even if the property has one or two floors, but includes five or more occupants (unless they are one family), the landlord will need to apply to their local council for a mandatory HMO licence.
There are heavy fines for anyone renting these types of premises without the correct licence.
You can view the council's public register of licensed HMOs.
Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 states local housing authorities must license Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in their area if they meet the definition of an HMO as prescribed under section 55 of the 2004 Act.
However, from 1 October 2018, the mandatory licensing requirements changed and they are no longer limited to HMOs that are three or more storeys high, but also include buildings with one or two storeys.
Making an application
In order to make the application process easier for landlords, St Helens Council has an online application and payment process:
Definition of a licensable HMO
A licensable HMO can be one, two or more storeys in height; however, it must be occupied by five or more persons, from two or more separate households and who share facilities such as a bathroom, kitchen, toilet or living room.
It may include bedsits, shared houses, non-self-contained flats and some self-contained flats.
Houses fully converted into self-contained flats will not usually be HMOs as long as they were converted following 'appropriate' building regulation standards. As a minimum, this will be the 1991 Building Regulations.
In general, the sole use of the property must be as an HMO. However, the council may 'declare' a property to be an HMO where there is significant usage. A property meeting the above definition will require a five-year licence, which is renewable annually.
If you let rooms in a property that qualifies as a HMO, the property must provide a safe, healthy and warm environment for your tenants.
More information about the standards required in various types of HMO property:
The council works within an intervention and enforcement policy framework, which looks to ensure all enforcement procedures, whether formal or informal, are forwarded in an open, helpful, proportionate and consistent manner.
In order to ensure legal compliance, there are specific management regulations, which set out the way in which such a property should be managed.
The government is also planning to produce an approved code of practice describing good management standards.
You can view the council's public register of licenced HMOs.
Houses in Multiple Occupation pose a greater risk to the health and safety of people living in them. Very often, people who live in HMOs do not know the other people living in the building with them, and the risks of fire and other hazards arise as a result of this.
The Housing Act 2004 provides powers for us to inspect property for Category 1 and 2 hazards. Once inspected, we rate the likelihood that the hazard seen will cause harm to the people living in or visiting the property. To do this, we use the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
Our housing inspectors are fully trained and authorised in this procedure and, following their inspection, they will rate any hazard seen and then consider the most appropriate action to take, e.g.
Some HMOs will need to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, (often referred to as the RRO or fire Safety Order). These will typically be houses let as bedsits, hostels and blocks of flats.
The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 came into force on 1 October 2006. This legislation requires a competent and responsible person, who has a degree of control over the building, to carry out a satisfactory fire risk assessment, and implement and maintain adequate standards of fire safety in the building. The fire safety guidance sheet provides information for landlords.
You can contact us by:
Telephone: (01744) 676789
Writing to: Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, Victoria Square, St Helens, WA10 1HP
The council inspects properties that it identifies as being a potential House in Multiple Occupation (HMO). If conditions in the properties inspected are not up to standard, the landlord or owner is required to improve them.
Under the Housing Act 2004, the following types of property are all defined as Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO):
In order to be a HMO, the property must be used as the tenants’ only or main residence and it should be used solely or mainly to house tenants. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties, which are used as domestic refuges.
There is a requirement for some types of HMO to be licensed.
If the council is concerned a property is an HMO, an inspection will take place to determine how safe the property is for residing or proposed tenants. One of the most important factors when conducting an inspection is to ensure the property has full fire protection facilities.
HMOs pose a greater risk to the health and safety of people living in them. Very often, people who live in HMO's do not know who else lives in the same building with them, and the risks of fire and infection are therefore increased. HMO fire safety is therefore an important part of our inspection and consideration will be given to Lacors fire safety guidance, which states:
An HMO inspection must be managed by a 'fit and proper' person and there are management regulations which set out the way in which such properties should be managed these are:
If you require any further information please contact the private sector housing department by:
Telephoning: 01744 676789
Writing to: People's Services, Private Housing Initiatives, Town Hall, St Helens, WA10 1HP
All homes need to meet certain standards to ensure that they do not represent a risk to health and safety. Landlords should provide tenants with a property that provides a safe and healthy environment to live in. The Renting a Safe Home guide has been produced to identify hazards or health risks, to work out whether a property is safe and to explain what to do if it’s not.
The NLA and St Helens Council Private Sector Landlord Forum is open to all landlords and letting agents involved with letting private sector properties. The aims of the forum are to provide valuable information on a range of housing issues and forthcoming amendments to Government policy and regulations affecting the private rented sector. The Forum also provides a great opportunity to network with other landlords.
Guest speakers are invited to present at each forum. Where possible, presentations from each forum will be available in the documents section below.
If you would like to receive invites to future forums, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your contact details.
HMRC is offering a range of support and advice for residential property landlords to help them to understand when and how to pay tax on property that they let out. Please use the links below for further details.
The let property campaign is an opportunity for landlords who owe tax through letting out residential property, in the UK or abroad, to get up to date with their tax affairs in a simple, straightforward way and take advantage of the best possible terms.
Attention landlords in St Helens: if your tenants are struggling to maintain their tenancy, there's free help available.
You may refer them to our Homelessness Early Intervention & Prevention Team, who'll:
The aim of our service is to prevent homelessness.
Statutory changes to the S21 Notice Procedure
From February 2016, the Right to Rent legislation came into force for all AST tenancies in England. Landlords or managing agents must now:
Along with the Right to Rent checks there are several other documents that landlords must give to a tenant(s) at the beginning of their tenancy.
The How to Rent link provides a booklet that must be provided to a tenant at the start of all new assured shorthold tenancies and replacement ASTs (including statutory periodic tenancies) that arise from now on.
Changes to S21 Notice Procedure
If a landlord wants to be successful in obtaining a valid S21 notice (after 1 October 2015) then the following documents must have been provided to a tenant in a hard copy format at the start of their tenancy (with relevant links) and these are:
You must be able to prove you provided all of the above by having some sort of proof of service, or signed documents from your tenant(s).
It is very important to serve all of these notices at the start of the tenancy. Failure to provide them or trying to provide them later will generally invalidate any section 21 notice served.
The links below are additional 'How to' leaflets produced by the MHCLG, although these are guidance leaflets only.
However, a statutory periodic tenancy arising after 1 October 2015 is not deemed to be a new tenancy, but a replacement tenancy.
For tenancies commencing before 1 October 2015, landlords should continue to use the old style S21 notices. To assist landlords and ensure the right form is used a copy has been added to the MCHLG archive of How to Rent booklets and is available to help you check the right version is given.
If the correct booklet was not given to the tenant, post 1 October 2015, then a section 21 notice cannot be served.
N.B. The changes have no effect on the Housing Act 1988 Section 8 Notice and procedures for rent arrears.