Swansea to charge up to £1020 for licence as it increases Additional HMO licensing area

29 Jan 2020

A leading trade body is voicing concern over yet another council private rental sector licensing scheme – with particular worry over the cost of a licence, which in some cases will exceed £1,000.

Swansea’s council want to renew and expand an additional HMO licensing scheme – it already runs over two wards, and the authority wants to extend it to a third. 

It is currently consulting on the proposal and the Residential Landlords Association has voiced its opposition – with the high cost of the proposed fee being one reaons, along with the fact that landlords in Swansea already have to pay for an annual Rent Smart Wales licence.

The association argues that many landlords could find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay a local authority an additional licence fee, as well as the Rent Smart Wales fee.

Swansea council is proposing to charge landlords with rental properties that fall into the scope of additional licensing between £714 and £1020.

The RLA is concerned that this fee is too high, and could lead to landlords having to cover the cost of obtaining a licence by passing this cost onto tenants in the form of increasing rents-doing nothing to address affordability.

Swansea claims that 41 per cent of HMOs in one ward were subject to complaints relating to poor waste management, and 38 per cent were related to noise complaints; these are given as major justifications of the licensing.

However, the RLA claims that these figures are merely typical of a general inner-city area. In addition to this, in the ward where the council is proposing to introduce additional licensing, there are only 12 HMOs.

A statement from the RLA says: “Therefore, there is insufficient need for a scheme here-especially when additional licensing schemes tend to be introduced in localities with hundreds of HMOs.”

The association says that the city council should abandon its licensing proposals and instead use cross-departmental working and effective use of existing housing legislation to support tenants and landlords in maintaining tenancies and housing conditions.

The RLA also advocates using council tax records to identify private rented properties and landlords. Unlike with licensing schemes, this method does not require self-identification by landlords, so it would be harder for criminal landlords to operate under the radar and ignore the scheme – as they do many other regulations.

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Fine of up to £30,000 for failing to comply as Slough introduces 3 person HMO and Selective Licensing

06 Jun 2019

Slough Borough Council approved the implementation of two discretionary licensing schemes for residential property in Slough.

Therefore from 1 July 2019 there will be three property licensing schemes in operation in Slough:

  • Additional licensing for all HMOs (not covered by mandatory scheme, i.e. smaller HMOs)
  • Selective licensing of all privately rented property covering most of Chalvey and Central Wards.
  • These are in addition to the existing  Mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) with 5 or more occupants

An HMO is any rented property which consists of three or more occupants, forming two or more households where there is some sharing of amenities or where the units of accommodation lack amenities, such as bathrooms, kitchens or toilets.

For the purposes of licensing, a household would include for example; a married couple (or equivalent relationship), parent and child or grandparent and child.

Mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)

From 1 October 2018, all HMOs with five or more tenants, forming more than one household, must have a council granted HMO licence, regardless of the height of the building. Prior to 1 October 2018 mandatory licensing only applied to HMOs of three or more storeys.

Additional licensing scheme for all HMOs

In exercise of its powers under Section 56 of the Housing Act 2004 Slough Borough Council has designated the whole of the borough for additional licensing. Under this scheme all HMOs, irrespective of the number of occupants or size of the property, require a licence.

The additional licensing scheme also covers certain buildings comprising of ‘self-contained flats’ that have not been converted in accordance with the 1991 Building Regulations. These are known as ‘257 HMOs’.

A copy of the designation notice and associated map can be found on the public notices webpage. 

A selective licensing scheme

In exercise of its powers under section 80 of the Housing Act 2004, Slough Borough Council has designated a large proportion of Chalvey and Central Wards for selective licensing.

All privately rented properties in the designated area will require a licence. A copy of the designation notice and map of the designated area can be found on the public notices webpage.

Licensed properties standards

All licensed HMOs will need to meet the standards set out in the document below. Licence holders will need to provide evidence that their property meets these standards and ensure the property is maintained in good and safe repair throughout the period of the licence.

If a licence holder fails to comply with any condition of a licence they could be subject to a fine of up to £30,000 or an unlimited fine upon conviction.

Ends

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