Press release

New measures tackle overcrowded housing

Minimum room sizes will apply to shared homes, improving housing for thousands.

Shared housing

Minimum room sizes will apply to shared homes to help to clamp down on rogue landlords cramming tenants into unsafe and overcrowded homes, improving housing for thousands, Housing Minister Gavin Barwell announced today (18 October 2016).

Measures will strengthen councils to tackle problem homes head-on and bring an end to ruthless landlords who exploit tenants and charge them extortionate rents to live in poor conditions.

Proposals published today improve standards for shared homes by making it clear that bedrooms must not fall below a minimum room size, closing a loophole which lets some landlords let out rooms far too small for an adult to occupy.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:

In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live.

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 intended measures to help councils raise standard in shared homes include:

  • ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with 5 or more people from 2 or more household, and to flats above and below shops and other business premises - currently licensing only kick-ins for homes with 3 or more floors and excludes homes attached to businesses, unless they are in a 3 storey buildings
  • requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish
  • tightening up the fit and proper person test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out to weed out rogues

Where a landlord fails to obtain a licence they will be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine.

These measures will complement other government efforts to crack down on rogue landlords who cash in on renting out homes to vulnerable people.

More than £5 million of targeted government funding to 48 councils has brought a big increase in the number of homes checked over 3 months. In early 2016, more than 33,000 homes were inspected and nearly 2,800 rogue landlords are now facing prosecution for providing substandard homes.

Since 2011 government has provided £12 million so local authorities can carry out more raids, issue more statutory notices and demolishing beds in sheds and other prohibited buildings.

Further information

A consultation has now launched on the proposed measures which apply to England only.

In addition the government is also seeking views on whether the current licensing arrangements for purpose built student accommodation are appropriate.

The minimum room size is 6.52 square metres.

The government’s response to an early consultation on extending mandatory licensing in houses of multiple occupation has also been published.

Our How to rent guide helps tenants know their rights and responsibilities, and letting agents are now required to belong to a redress scheme so landlords and tenants have somewhere to go if they get a raw deal.

Powers in the Housing and Planning Act, which are also being introduced will further crackdown poor quality homes by introducing a database of rogue landlords and property agents, banning orders for the most prolific and serious offenders, penalties of up to £30,000 and extended rent repayment orders.

The government has set out the most ambitious vision for housing in a generation, including £3.5 billion in government-backed guarantees to attract more institutional investment into the private rental sector.

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Published 18 October 2016