14 June 2013

Council’s additional licensing scheme is well underway

Hundreds of landlords of shared homes across the city have signed up to a new licensing scheme designed to improve safety and provide better homes. The council extended the legal requirement for licensing to smaller houses in multiple occupation,(HMOs), in November 2012, to improve and maintain the general repair and safety of properties being rented out to a growing number of tenants in five identified wards, as below:

Number of additional licenses issued from 5/11/2012 to 5/6/2013

Draft licenses issued:  Hanover And Elm Grove, 277(draft)  51(full), Hollingdean and Stanmer 74 (draft) 9 (full), Moulsecoomb and Bevendean 327(draft) 52(full), Queens Park 31(draft) 18(full).  TOTAL LICENSES ISSUED:791(draft) 135(full) 

Previously, landlords of properties with two or more storeys and three or more occupiers would not need a licence to operate as an HMO. Only houses with three or more storeys with five or more occupiers met the criteria for HMO licensing. However, it became evident that an increasing number of smaller houses were being converted for multiple occupation, with clusters identified in specific areas of the city.

 Geoff Raw, Executive Director Environment Development & Housing said;

"This is wonderful news, which means safer and better homes for residents in shared housing as well as peace of mind for landlords. Research has shown a concentration of smaller houses converting from family homes to multiple occupation units in these five wards. Our licensing regulations have provided protection for tenants in the traditionally larger HMOs for many years, and we have built up a good working relationship with landlords. It was only right that we should extend these benefits more widely to others renting privately in HMOs.”

The council has received 1,451* applications for additional licences in total between 1st of October and 5 June 2013. Each property is visited as the first step in a complex process, with legal requirements for issuing draft and then full licenses, which takes time. This is not a procedure which can be rushed as the conditions of a licence are important to both landlords and tenants concerned.

The council will always work with landlords applying for a licence, ensuring enough time is given to improve standards where necessary. However, it remains a criminal offence not to apply for a licence, with a maximum penalty on conviction of £20,000.

 *Breakdown of applications by ward: Moulsecoomb and Bevendean 553, Hanover and Elm Grove 400, St. Peter's and North Laine 271, Hollingdean and Stanmer 161, Queen's Park 66. TOTAL:1451

 The additional licensing scheme came into force from Monday 5 November 2012 and will last 5 years.  The council cannot profit from any licensing scheme and the fee that is set must be justifiable and representative of each individual local authority’s process. Current fee calculations, covering a licence for 5 years, give an average licence fee of £641.

 If you have a property in one of the wards and think it may need to be licensed or have any questions, please ring Private Sector Housing on (01273) 293156 or e-mail us on psh@brighton-hove.gov.uk.