NEW legislation comes into force next month - and landlords are being urged to be aware of the changes.

Landlords who have Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) which are occupied by five or more people in two or more separate households will need a licence from Monday, October 1.

It also brings in mandatory conditions such as minimum sleeping room sizes, maximum number of occupants and provision of refuse facilities.

Cllr Graham Carr-Jones, Leader of North Dorset District Council and Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Licensing of HMOs ensures that our housing team know about properties which may present significant health risk to residents. It also gives us the evidence that shows appropriate management arrangements have been made for the property.”

Licenses will be granted if the proposed licence holder is a ‘fit and proper’ person and is the most appropriate person to be given a licence as well as if the house is suitable for occupation by a certain number of people.

Cllr Tim Yarker, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: "The changes to the regulations will drive up conditions for residents. Through the licensing process, officers will be able to advise property owners of the regulations and enforce them.”

Cllr Gill Taylor, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Housing, said: “Weymouth and Portland have a high number of HMOs compared to the surrounding areas. Through these new regulations, even more are likely to be identified. The bigger catchment will bring properties to our attention that might not be suitable and we can then work with the property owner to find a solution.”

If a HMO isn't licensed councils have the ability to either impose a civil penalty of up to £30k for non-compliance with licensing requirements, or to prosecute in the courts.

The tri-council partnership is keen to emphasise that this is a last resort.

A spokesmand said: "The councils' housing team is committed to working with property owners to ensure licensing requirements are followed. Landlords who are uncertain if their property requires licensing should contact the Housing Improvement Team.

To apply for a licence, email

The cost of a HMO licence is set by the councils and new applications will cost £650 while renewals will cost £550.

A 10 per cent discount is available for landlords who join the Landlords’ Local Authority Partnership, which is free to join, or one of the three national landlord associations.