Tenants in houses of multiple occupation will have greater protection from rogue landlords who ignore their responsibilities after new rules have been introduced.
The changes are expected to benefit at least 850,000 people who live in privately rented homes.
All landlords who let out a property to 5 or more people – from 2 or more separate households that share facilities – must get a licence from their local housing authority.
Previously, the rules only applied to properties of 3 or more storeys – but now all properties will be covered.
The clampdown is one of a number of government measures to rebalance the relationship between landlords and tenants.
The vast majority of landlords provide decent accommodation, but these measures are about raising standards in private rented homes where landlords knowingly flout their responsibilities.
Under the new rules, all bedrooms must be at least 6.5 square metres and councils must ensure tenants have suitable space to store their rubbish outside homes.
Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP said: “Everyone renting a home has the right to expect it is maintained to a decent standard.
“Extending licensing to 170,000 more properties will ensure people benefit from better quality accommodation across the country.
“There are currently around 60,000 licensable ‘houses in multiple occupation’ (HMOs) but from today a further 170,000 will require licences.”
An estimated 4 million people live in private rented homes, and now at least 1.1 million who are in licensable HMOs will benefit from the protection provided by HMO licensing.
Under the existing rules, enforcement officers in Brent, north-west London, raided an unlicensed 3-bedroom HMO in September 2017, and found 35 men bedding down on mattresses in every room except the bathrooms.
The property was raided after neighbours complained about overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping.
In order to get a HMO licence, landlords must prove to the council they are a ‘fit and proper’ person and the property is of a suitable standard for the number of residents.