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Government urged to hold parliamentary debate on minimum room sizes

Letting agent groups are warning that the private rental sector is set to lose vital stock as the Government presses ahead with plans for minimum room sizes for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The National Approved Lettings Scheme (NALS) and ARLA Propertymark have both said they understand the changes but have questioned whether they should go ahead.

HMO landlord Dhugal Clark has launched a petition calling for a parliamentary debate on minimum bedroom sizes that are set to be introduced in October through the the Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (Mandatory Conditions of Licences) (England) Regulations 2018.

He warns that the changes – which sets a minimum bedroom size requirement at 6.51 square metres for a person aged ten years or over –  will reduce the number of rooms available for tenants and mean those living in bigger properties will end up paying more council tax as well as higher rents.

David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said the proposals had been consulted on since 2016 and warned it was too late for a parliamentary debate but said the trade body has written to the previous housing ministers to question these changes.

He told EYE: “We have made verbal and written representations with the Government.

“We understand where the Government is coming from. They want everybody to live in good quality accommodation but a lot of older properties have boxrooms.

“There are always people willing to have a smaller room to save money on rent, this is going to take away those rooms and means the costs are shared by fewer people.

“People happy to live in a box room have to pay increased rent to live in a bigger room.

“Why does the Government feel it knows better than an individual making an informed decision based on the size of a room?”

Isobel Thomson, chief executive of NALS, added: “NALS would like to see more parliamentary debate over minimum room sizes in HMOs.

“While we understand Government’s aim is to improve some specific types of HMO accommodation in the sector, it’s important that common sense prevails. As it stands, the proposed changes will remove councils’ discretion to assess a property on its own merits, as they can now.

“This means we’ll lose much-needed accommodation from the PRS in what are otherwise decent and safe properties.”

Source: Property Industry Eye