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Landlords across the region have just days to ensure they comply with new rules around houses of multiple occupation (HMOs) or face a fine of up to £30,000 or prosecution, a leading solicitor has warned.

Paul Barnes, partner at Kirwans law firm is reminding landlords of the reforms to the mandatory HMO licensing regime that will see a new definition of what properties are classed as HMOs, as well as mandatory national minimum sleeping room sizes and waste disposal provision requirements.

Current rules state that landlords only require an HMO licence for a property if five or more people forming two households live there and share cooking or bathing facilities, and the house has three storeys or more.

However, from Monday, October 1, the storey-height criteria will no longer apply. Instead, any property with five or more people forming unrelated households, even if it is lacking in a basic amenity such as a toilet or cooking facilities, will need an HMO licence.

In addition, new minimum bedroom sizes and health and safety rules will be introduced, including, in Liverpool, the requirement that landlords must also provide facilities where tenants can store waste while waiting for scheduled council refuse collections.

Paul Barnes said: “The majority of landlords are decent professionals who want to provide high quality accommodation to good tenants.

“However, across the country there has been a rise in rogue landlords housing vulnerable people in sub-standard properties, and the new rules are the government’s attempt to stamp this out.

“Landlords should be aware that the government means business with these particular reforms, and the penalties for those falling foul of the law are high. It is vital to ensure that the correct licence is in place in order to avoid criminal proceedings.”

Liverpool City Council has taken a hard stance against rogue landlords since launching its Landlord Licensing Scheme in 2015, with a number of landlords prosecuted for a wide range of failings in relation to their properties.