Mandatory HMO licensing scheme
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A new licensing scheme aimed at improving conditions for occupiers and addressing issues that can affect neighbourhoods will be introduced for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO’s) from 1 April 2019.

It will require landlords to meet important quality and safety standards before an HMO is let.

This regulatory regime will also be linked to planning, ensuring that the concentration of HMOs is managed.

Belfast City Council will manage the licensing scheme on behalf of all local authorities in Northern Ireland. More information is available on their website at www.belfastcity.gov.uk/nihmo.

Belfast City Council will also launch an advertising campaign to include online, radio and newspapers, to ensure landlords and tenants are aware of the change in responsibilities. It is intended that all local councils will share this messaging and information widely.

The licensing scheme will be managed by the NI HMO Unit based in Belfast City Council; they will process applications and enforce the regulations across NI, ensuring the terms and conditions of the licences are complied with by landlords.

The decision on whether to award a licence will be the responsibility of the local council in which the HMO is located.

The new system will work more effectively because HMO regulation will be linked to other critical functions, such as planning, building control and environmental health, all of which are under the responsibility of district councils.

David Polley from the Department for Communities said, “From 1 April 2019 Councils will be responsible for HMO regulation carrying out checks and inspections to ensure that the property is suitable for the specified maximum number of persons intending to occupy it.

“This is about improving the quality of this type of private rented accommodation and is something which should be welcomed by landlords, those living in HMOs and those living around them.

“Well managed multi-occupancy houses are an important part of the housing market in Northern Ireland. New licensing arrangements will mean councils will be expected to work with landlords and owners of HMOs to ensure flats and houses are safe and well maintained,” he added.

Source: Newry Times

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