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City Council seeks views on proposed new landlord licensing scheme

Consultation on a new licensing scheme for landlords renting out shared houses is running until 20 July 2018 and the City Council is urging residents, tenants, landlords and letting agents to have their say on the proposals.

An Additional Licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) was introduced in parts of Nottingham in 2014 to help ensure safe and decent standards in these homes and contribute to raising the standards of private rented homes in the city overall.

The current five-year scheme will soon end, so the council is consulting on proposals for a new scheme, which would run for a further five years from January 2019.

Additional Licensing is a scheme that applies to privately rented Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) or shared houses. All kinds of people live in HMOs, but they are mostly associated with students and younger people.

The scheme requires a licence to be held for smaller HMO properties in certain areas of the city where between three and five people who aren’t related live together and share facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. Larger HMO properties shared by five or more people will be covered by a different scheme – Mandatory licensing, which is a national scheme, covering the whole city. Landlords are required to apply for a licence, which can last up to five years, for each HMO property they rent out in the area covered by the scheme.

The new Additional Licensing scheme is proposed to cover all or parts of the following wards: Arboretum, Berridge, Bridge, Dales, Dunkirk and Lenton, Mapperley, Radford and Park, Sherwood, St Ann’s and Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey.

The current licensing scheme has had a positive impact on problems associated with HMOs since its introduction in 2014, such as gas, electric and fire safety, overcrowding and insufficient facilities, poor internal and external property conditions as well as issues of noise nuisance and waste management.

Over half of the HMOs that applied to the scheme since 2014 did not meet the required standards at first inspection. However, the council has worked with landlords to improve the conditions and management of their properties with almost 3,500 certificates being issued for compliance with the required standards to date. This, along with the scheme still receiving 25 applications a month in its fifth year, shows that the scheme is effective but there is still work to be done to fully engage landlords and maintain improvements.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing said: “This scheme, along with others, is a major part of our plans to improve all types of private rented housing in the city.

“Not only does the scheme help to improve poorer standards of accommodation, it means tenants know what is expected of their landlord in terms of the management of their home. It also helps us to tackle rogue and bad landlords by providing a clear set of guidelines which all landlords need to meet,and helps prevent bad landlords cutting corners or ‘undercutting’ good ones, creating a level playing field for all.

“We are encouraging landlords, managing agents, residents and tenants to have their say on these proposals to help us shape the new scheme.”

A consultation on the new scheme began on 1 May 2018 and is running until 20 July 2018. To find out more information and have your say on the current proposals visit: http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/additionalhmo.

Source: West Bridgford Wire

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Additional Licensing proposal in Bristol

The council proposes to introduce an Additional Licensing scheme for houses in multiple occupation across Bristol City.  Specifically 12 wards that make up central Bristol – Ashley, Bishopston & Ashley Down, Central, Clifton, Clifton Down, Cotham, Easton, Hotwells & Harbourside, Lawrence Hill, Redland, Southville and Windmill Hill – with the aim to improve poor management and poor housing conditions.

The Proposed Additional will capture most HMO’s that are not defined as HMO’s under the expected Mandatory Licensing regulations expected in April.

It would apply to all private rented houses or flats in this area that are let to three or more people who aren’t related and who share some facilities, like kitchens or bathrooms.

Landlords would need to apply for a licence and meet licensing conditions.

The basic proposed licence fee under this scheme without any discounts, would be £1,660, valid for up to five years. With discounts (early application/proof of in date & satisfactory Gas, Electrical & EPC Certificates and membership of an approved West of England Rent with Confidence scheme) the licence fee would be reduced to £885. For renewals this would be £785.

Further information about this proposal can be accessed by clicking here.

“Rob Crawford, Chairman for the Association of Local Landlords (Wessex) encourages all landlords that may be affected to read the proposal in detail before responding to the consultation survey.  The consultation closes on 13th May 2018.

The proposal was not unexpected after Councilor Paul Smith’s (BCC’s Cabinet Minister for Housing) outburst at a recent landlord meeting, where he revealed plans to introduce City Wide licensing were due to “Labour Policy!

Together with recent changes in tax legislation, higher tax threshold landlords with large portfolios now face bankruptcy.  Irrespective as to whether the landlord is compliant or rogue. Additional licensing does not discriminate sufficiently between the two!

The Council has not demonstrated how a basic Additional Licensing fee of £1,660 can possibly be justified.  If the Council maintains that this level of fee reflects its costs of administering the scheme, then it must be so inefficient that it must be challenged.  While the Council may have the legal power to introduce new measures, it is also under a duty to do so in the most cost-effective manner possible.  ALL Wessex is aware of at least one significantly lower cost alternative scheme.

Furthermore, the Council needs to be reminded that there is a legal obligation on Councils to only spend the funds raised from Additional Licensing on the scheme.  It is simply illegal to spend this money on other Council services.

The Council is proposing that a discount of £775 can apply, resulting in a net fee of £885.  However, the Council has not justified why its costs would be so much more if landlords cannot comply immediately with these requirements.  Even at a proposed discounted fee level of £885, ALL Wessex has some difficulty in understanding how the Council’s costs can be so high.

Whilst we wish to support the eradication of rogue landlords and where necessary support landlords in meeting an acceptable rental standard, we do not believe Additional Licensing as proposed is in the interest of landlords or their tenants.

We will be providing landlords with guidance on how to best respond to the consultation in due course.   All landlords must play an active part in objecting to this proposal”

Rob Crawford, Chairman for the Association of Local Landlords (Wessex)

Source: Property 118