Changes to HMO licensing scheme in 2017

Measures should strengthen councils to tackle problem homes

According to the Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell “In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live. These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area. By driving out rogue landlords that flout the rules out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”

Government proposals published this week aim to improve the standards for shared homes by introducing certain measures:

· ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with 5 or more people from 2 or more household, and to flats above and below shops and other business premises – currently licensing only kick-ins for homes with 3 or more floors and excludes homes attached to businesses, unless they are in a 3 storey buildings
· requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish
· tightening up the fit and proper person test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out to weed out rogues
· making it clear that bedrooms must not fall below a minimum room size (6.52m2 for a single room and 10.23m2 for a double room)

The government have indicated that the proposals will be implemented in 2017 with a grace period of six months for all landlords to comply.
Councils will still retain the ability to introduce additional and selective licensing schemes. Two West London councils have already taken the steps towards introduction of these HMO schemes.

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have recently closed the consultation on additional and selective licensing, and the council will now analyse the results before deciding what to do.

The London Borough of Ealing are introducing the additional and selective licensing scheme that will come in force on the 1st of January 2017:

· The new additional licensing scheme will apply to all HMOs that are two storeys or more and occupied by four or more people but not covered by the mandatory scheme. The scheme will also apply to all HMOs in buildings with mixed commercial and residential use, plus certain so-called section 257 HMOs, which are buildings converted into self-contained flats.
· In addition, the new selective licensing will apply to all privately rented homes in Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton.

To obtain a licence for five years, landlords or managing agents will be required to pay a licence fee for each rented property in the designated schemes. The additional licensing fee is £1,100 for each HMO plus £30 for each habitable room, and the selective licensing fee is £500.

Landlords operating in the London Borough of Ealing are being encouraged to apply now and benefit from a 25% discount on property licensing fees. The discounted fee is available all for applications submitted between 1 October and 31 December 2016. Should you need help or advice on additional and selective licensing, do contact us.