Frequently asked questions about Houses in Multiple Occupation

How will landlord licensing benefit landlords?
Landlord licensing is intended to benefit landlords in a number of ways. As part of the licensing regime, Rochdale Borough Council will provide landlords with a range of support services and training opportunities, to ensure they are able to meet the conditions of their licence, and to assist in the running of their businesses. In the longer term, licensing is intended to raise the overall management standards in the private rented sector and, therefore, have a positive effect on rent levels and capital values. This will encourage investment in our borough and a thriving private rented market.

Is VAT payable on the licence fee?
No, VAT is not payable on the licence fee.

Can you transfer a licence?
As stated in legislation, licences are non transferable.

What is the definition of a household?
Persons who are all members of the same family (for example, they are married or co-habiting, regardless of their sex) or one of them is the parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of the other.

What sanctions can be imposed against landlords?
If the landlord of a property, which is liable to be licensed, and which does not have a licence or a valid temporary exemption notice, or allows a HMO to be occupied by more than the specified number of people in the licence, he or she commits an offence, which may be punishable by an unlimited fine imposed by the Magistrates Court. Alternatively, under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 the council has the power to issue a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for housing offences under the Housing Act 2004.
If the landlord breaches the conditions of the licence, he or she also commits an offence and may be liable for a fine of up to £5,000 or a civil penalty.

The local authority will be able to apply to the first-tier property chamber for a rent repayment order, to recoup any housing benefit the landlord has received during the unlicensed period (maximum 12 months). No offence is committed if there is an outstanding application for a licence or a temporary exemption notice is in force.

What does a "fit and proper person" mean?
Rochdale Borough Council will carry out checks to make sure that the person applying for the licence is a "fit and proper person". In deciding whether someone is "fit and proper", we must take into account, amongst other things:

  • Any previous convictions relating to violence, sexual offences, drugs and fraud.
  • Whether the proposed licence holder has broken any laws relating to housing or landlord and tenant issues.
  • Whether the person has been found guilty of unlawful discrimination.
  • Whether the person has previously managed HMOs that have broken any approved code of practice. We
    envisage the proposed licence holder and/or managing agent may be asked to submit a Disclosure and Barring Service along with the application if the above checks are not satisfactory.

Are there conditions attached to the licence?
There will be a number of conditions attached to licences, some of which are set out in the act and some of which will be prescribed by Rochdale Borough Council in individual cases. We'll notify applicants individually.

How long does a licence last?
Licences can be granted for up to 5 years. Licences will usually end on the scheme expiry date. We may grant licences for shorter periods in certain circumstances.

When should I apply for a licence?
Landlords will need to apply for a licence as soon as they begin letting a property that meets the criteria for licensing. Apply for a licence

Do I have to apply for a licence for each property?
Yes. A licence will only be valid for one property. You will require a licence for each property. Apply for a licence

I have properties in different local authorities, do I have to apply to each of them?
Yes. Each local authority is responsible for determining and issuing a licence in their area. This allows local authorities to take their local needs and policies into account when making their decision. Apply for a licence in the borough of Rochdalefind the council website for your property address.

Can the council refuse to licence my property?
Yes. If the property doesn't meet the conditions set out and/or if the licence holder or manager is not a "fit and proper person".

What will happen if the council refuse to licence my property?
If a landlord fails to bring a property up to the required standard, or fails to meet the "fit and proper person" criteria, Rochdale Borough Council can apply to issue an Interim Management Order (IMO), which if granted, allows Rochdale Borough Council to step in and manage the property.

The owner keeps their rights as an owner. This order can last up to a year until suitable permanent management arrangements can be made. If the IMO expires and there has been no improvement, then Rochdale Borough Council can apply for a Final Management Order. If granted, this can last up to 5 years and can be renewed.

Can I appeal against the decision?
You may appeal if the council decides to:

  • Refuse a licence.
  • Grant a licence with conditions.
  • Revoke a licence.
  • Vary a licence.
  • Refuse to vary a licence.

You must appeal to the First-tier tribunal - Property Chamber, usually within 28 days See disputes for Houses in Multiple Occupation

In terms of licensing, what is a mandatory HMO?
A mandatory HMO has 3 or more storeys, 5 or more occupants that form 2 or more households.

What is the definition of a storey?
A storey is defined as any basement, attic or floor that is adapted for use as living accommodation. Mezzanine floors within buildings are included in this definition.

Is a 2-storey property above business premises defined as an HMO?
Yes, where living accommodation is situated in a part of a building above or below business premises, each storey of the business premises is counted as a storey.

What criteria must an HMO meet for it to be licensed?
Anyone who owns or manages an HMO that must be licensed in Rochdale has to apply to Rochdale Borough Council for a licence. The council must grant a licence if it is satisfied:

  • The HMO is reasonably suitable for occupation by the number of people allowed under the licence.
  • The proposed licence holder is a "fit and proper person".
  • The proposed licence holder is the most appropriate person to hold a licence.
  • The proposed manager, if there is one, is a "fit and proper person".
  • The proposed management arrangements are satisfactory.
  • The person involved in the management of the HMO is competent.
  • The financial structures for the management are suitable.

What is meant by "reasonably suitable for occupation" for a number of people?
For an HMO to be reasonably suitable for occupation for a relevant number of people, Rochdale Borough Council will be using prescribed standards set by the government. The standards cover, amongst other things:

  • Number, type and quality of bathrooms, toilets, washbasins and showers.
  • Number, type and quality of food storage, preparation and cooking facilities.
  • Fire precautions.

In terms of licensing, what is an HMO under Additional Licensing?
A property required to be licensed under the Additional licensing scheme has 3 or more unrelated occupants in 2 or more households, irrespective of the number of storeys. All other criteria also apply.