13 September 2018

Green light for new measure to improve private rented housing

A new ‘Selective Licensing Scheme’ for private rented homes in 12 central and coastal wards in the city has been given the go ahead by the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The Selective Licensing Scheme will be introduced early next year for all private rented homes not currently covered by mandatory or additional licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the following wards:

  • St Peters & North Laine
  • Regency
  • Moulsecoomb & Bevendean
  • Hollingdean & Stanmer
  • Queens Park
  • Hanover & Elm Grove
  • Brunswick & Adelaide
  • East Brighton
  • South Portslade
  • Central Hove
  • Westbourne
  • Preston Park  

The scheme was approved by the council’s Housing & New Homes Committee on 15 November 2017 following a consultation the previous summer. The consultation had 804 responses with 81% in favour. The Secretary of State approved the scheme on the grounds of improving housing conditions in the city and that approval is the final stage in the process.

The scheme will be introduced from 4 February 2019 and will likely affect around 27,000 properties.

The introduction of further licensing in the city aims to improve management and housing conditions across the private rented sector. The benefits include:

  • Responsible landlords gaining from improved clarity about their role in raising property and tenancy management standards while action is taken to tackle those who flout their legal responsibilities.
  • Tenants would be clear on what standards they can expect in the homes they rent and the landlords they rent from, with minimum standards resulting in better managed, quality and safer homes. 
  • Communities would benefit from a consistent approach towards proactively assessing and improving housing conditions across the areas. 

Evidence from current HMO licensing in Brighton & Hove shows that almost 90% of properties required improvements to ensure they were fit and safe for occupation. Property inspections resulted in improvements in 2,629 homes, benefiting an estimated 13,000 tenants. 

Councillor Tracey Hill, lead member for Private Rented Sector on the Housing & New Homes Committee, said:

“It’s great news that our application to introduce selective licensing has been successful. Private rented accommodation makes up around 31% of the city’s housing. It can provide people with flexible, affordable and good quality homes but we know the quality of management and maintenance of the properties is inconsistent.

“Alongside our existing licensing schemes for HMOs, this will allow us to raise standards in more privately rented homes in the city and help us make sure that tenants in the sector can live in safe, healthy and well-managed homes.”

Mandatory licensing covers HMOs that are three or more storeys and accommodate more than five people who form two or more households. Additional and selective licensing are discretionary schemes local authorities can introduce if certain conditions are met. Additional licensing for smaller HMOs was expanded to run city-wide from March this year, following a consultation that ran at the same time last year.

For more information on the selective licensing scheme, including the notice of designation for the scheme, please go to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/prs-licensing.

For more information on HMO licensing schemes in the city, go to www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/hmo-licensing.