The move follows new HMO legislation introduced last month which requires landlords who let a property to five or more people most gain a licence from their local housing authority.
Previously mandatory licensing only applied to HMO properties of three storeys or higher.
The guidance also outlines the requirements on the minimum sizes for bedrooms, in a bid to reduce overcrowding in smaller HMOs.
It states: “The standards are designed to ensure consistency of approach on minimum room sizes used for sleeping within HMOs, and so give certainty for landlords, tenants and local authorities on the absolute minimum standards that are acceptable.”
Within the guidance document, the government highlights that it is down to local authorities to make it clear to landlords that they will require a licence.
It states: “We expect local authorities to carry out active promotion of the extended mandatory licensing regime. Local housing authorities will have their own processes and policies in relation to communications and advertising. This may include advertising in the local press or having dedicated pages on their own website. We also expect local authorities to provide guidance to landlords on the new licensing requirements.”
Breaching the terms of the licence comes with heavy punishments; landlords could be subject to an unlimited fine, though the guidance states: “A reasonable period for compliance must be allowed in certain circumstances.”
Heather Wheeler, housing minister, emphasised that everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live. She added: “Today’s new guidance for landlords will further protect private renters against bad and overcrowded conditions and poor management practice.”
The government has also announced a review to look at how selective landlord licensing is being used and how it is performing.
Some areas require landlords apply for a licence if they want to rent out a property, allowing the council in question to check whether the landlord is a “fit and proper person”.
Evidence will be gathered from local authorities and bodies representing landlords, tenants and housing professionals before the review’s findings are published next Spring.