Renting out rooms in your own home?

Do I need Statutory Permission to rent a room in my home or a property I own ?

Planning permission is not usually required for letting rooms in your own home, as long as the property remains primarily your home and residential accommodation.

This may not be the case if you were to use it primarily to earn money from letting accommodation, and you should check this first with your local council.

A House in Multiple Occupation Licence is sometimes required by a Local Authority. This is not required for renting out one room at a property but if two or more rooms are rented out, then permission can be required.  These are known as Licences which are granted to Houses in Multiple Occupation. Local Authorities determine if these are required and define the criteria. (See below)

Mortgage Provider Permission
If you own your property outright, you do not need to seek permission to let rooms.

If you have a mortgage, it is essential to get permission from your lender first, to avoid being in breach of the terms of the mortgage. Leaseholders should check the terms of the lease.

Insurance Company Consent
You should inform your home insurance company (both contents and buildings) and if necessary extend your cover. Letting rooms are likely to be considered more of an insurance risk.  Not to do so could leave you uninsured as this is a breach of contract. 

Who can rent a room in my home?

Anyone you choose to let it to but there are obligations that you need to fulfill.  A landlord or their managing agent needs to confirm that the person renting a room is allowed to do so.

There is a maximum prison sentence of five years or an unlimited fine for renting property in England to someone you knew or had ‘reasonable cause to believe’ didn’t have the right to rent in the UK or if you can’t show that you checked their right to rent.

How do you ensure you have reason to believe that a possible tenant has the right to rent?

A landlord or agent needs to establish that the prospective tenant has the right to rent; if they are a UK citizen this right is automatic. If they are not a UK citizen, you need to establish that they have permission to enter or stay in the UK, their permission has not expired and that their papers are correct.

Do I need a licence to rent a room in my house or my property?

You do not need a Local Authority licence unless your property is considered a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

A property is defined as a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if:

  • it is rented out to at least three tenants forming more than one ‘household’; AND
  • tenants share basic amenities (i.e, toilet, bathroom or kitchen) with other tenants.

A ‘household’ can be defined as a single person or members of the same family who live together, including those who are:

  • married/living together (including people in same-sex relationships);
  • relatives or half-relatives, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings;
  • step-parents and step-children.

The landlord and his household count as one household.

A house is an HMO if, for example, three single people have their own rooms, or two couples each share a room, but they share basic amenities. A property is likely to be an HMO if it is split into bedsits, a shared house or flat, a hostel, or a house shared by students.

There is a further classification of a Large House in Multiple Occupation. The property is defined as a large HMO if:

  • it is rented to five or more tenants who form more than one household;
  • it is at least three storeys high; AND
  • tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

A local authority licence is mandatory* for all large HMOs. The landlord should apply for the licence or a managing agent can apply on behalf of the landlord. The licence is valid for a maximum of five years.

The penalty for not having a licence for a large HMO is an unlimited fine. A tenant may also be eligible to reclaim up to twelve months’ rent paid if you have been prosecuted for running an unlicenced large HMO.  A Section 21 notice (two months’ notice to leave) is not valid if the tenant is on an assured shorthold tenancy.

What will a landlord be responsible for?

The landlord (or occasionally a managing agent) is responsible for:

  • Repairs to any shared areas.
  • The structure and exterior of the building.
  • The safe and suitable provision of all main services.
  • An annual gas safety certificate for any gas appliances.
  • An electricity check every five years and where any new changes to the electrical systems are carried out at the property.  They also need to provide safety certificates for all electrical appliances (when requested).
  • Personal hygiene installations including hand basins and showers.
  • Sanitation and drainage.
  • Food safety facilities including cooking and food storage facilities. The landlord must correct any damage to internal decorations caused by repair problems or repairs being carried out.
  • Landlords are also required to ensure adequate fire safety measures are in place, including the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.

All Landlords of HMOs are also required to ensure that communal areas and shared facilities are clean and in good repair.

To apply for a large HMO licence, the landlord must ensure that:

  • the property is suitable for the number of occupants (ensuring it is not overcrowded and there are sufficient cooking and bathroom facilities for the number of people living there); and
  • the manager of the house (you or your agent) must be ‘fit and proper’ (e.g, have no criminal record or have breached landlord laws or codes of practice).

The council may impose other conditions to the licence, such as an improvement to the standard of the facilities.

How does the council assess suitability?

The council may assess the suitability of the property using the Housing Health Safety Rating System and can take action against the landlord (or employed manager) if the property is found to be unsafe or not fit to live in.

Read the government’s guide for landlords and managers who manage HMOs and letting rooms in your home a guide for resident landlords for more information.

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* In July 2017 the Housing Minister, Alok Sharma, responded to a parliamentary question on the proportion of HMOs that are subject to mandatory licensing.

He said: “As at 31 March 2016, local authorities provided the Department with estimate numbers of total mandatory licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) at 63,950. The actual number of properties which have been issued a mandatory HMO licence is 40,970. Therefore, the current proportion is 65 per cent.”

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See our related article: Legislation changes to HMOs and EPCs for proposed amendments to the current rules on Houses of Multiple Occupation and Energy Performance Certificates.