CHANGES to Government rules mean a huge expansion in the number of HMOs requiring licences. Until this month an HMO (house in multiple occupation) only required a licence if it had three storeys and was occupied by five or more people, in two or more separate households while sharing kitchens/bathrooms.
The new regulations remove the three storey requirement, and Bournemouth council estimates it will have to license an additional 2,500 properties out of an estimated 3,000 previously unlicensable properties across the borough.
A report from the council’s private sector housing team to the communities scrutiny committee states that “2018/19 promises to be another exceptionally busy year”.
“The following key projects and service developments will be delivered,” the report says.
“The Extension to Mandatory HMO Licensing which could mean that the number of licensed HMOs will increase to approximately 2,500.
“The Housing and Planning Act has come into force which will bring further significant changes to our enforcement powers with Banning Orders for rogue landlords.”
Until April, council figures show there were 601 licensable HMOs across Bournemouth and Poole, of which 529 were in Bournemouth.
Bournemouth estimated there were 3,000 non-licensable HMOs in the borough, however in the past officers have often stated that it can be difficult to keep track of unlicensed properties.
Of these, 1,800 were believed to house students.
The new regulations bring in mandatory conditions relating to minimum sleeping room sizes, maximum number of occupants and provision of refuse facilities.
Licenses last for five years.
The private sector housing team, which among its duties is charged with ensuring landlords maintain their properties in good condition, dealt with some 2,600 service requests over the past financial year, according to its annual report.
There were 786 complaints relating to such issues as damp, lack of heating, lack of fire safety and overcrowding.
The team also lodged 11 prosecutions, and by the end of the year had three successes, through which some £2,300 was collected in fines and costs.
Also, the borough’s team has carried out an inspection of the nine mobile home parks in the area to ensure compliance with licence conditions. Together these parks house some 500 mostly elderly people.
One site, which is not identified, was prosecuted for non-compliance and the council collected £850 in fines and costs.
Source: Bournemouth Echo