The details of a new scheme aiming to provide better standards for Nottingham’s private rented tenants were given final approval today (Tuesday 17 April 2018) by the City Council’s Executive Board ahead of being rolled out from 1 August this year.
Final details have been agreed for the selective licensing scheme, which will mean landlords in most areas of the city have to obtain a licence for properties they rent out to ensure safety and quality standards are met.
Licences will cost landlords with Nottingham Standard accreditation £480, the equivalent of £1.85 a week per property over the five years of the scheme and £780, which equates to £3 a week if they haven’t got accreditation. Under current HMRC rules the licence could be classed as an allowable expense and may therefore reduce the tax liability for some landlords depending upon their individual circumstances.
The Council believes that such a small fee should not lead to landlords increasing rent and that the vast majority of landlords will absorb the licence fee and the cost of any necessary improvements to properties as part of the day-to-day costs of running of their business. Income from the licence fees goes towards the cost of setting up, operating and delivering the schemes. The Council is not permitted to make a profit from the scheme.
Selective Licensing means landlords of private rented properties in certain parts of the city must meet a set of conditions and ensure good management of their properties. This includes:
- Providing up to date safety certificates
- Evidence of any relevant training undertaken
- Evidence that the property is sufficiently insured
- A basic Disclosure Certificate (a criminal record check)
Landlords who do not apply for a licence or do not meet the required standards may be putting tenants’ safety and long-term health and wellbeing at risk.
Evidence suggests that too many people in Nottingham are paying rent on private properties that are not safe or of a decent standard. A report by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) 2016 estimated that 21% of Nottingham’s private rented properties are likely to have ‘Category 1’ hazards including exposed wiring, dangerous boilers, cold bedrooms, leaking roofs, mould or vermin infestation.
A separate report for a proposed designation of Additional Licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) was also presented at the Executive Board. The current five-year scheme introduced in 2014 will soon come to an end so the Council is now looking to introduce a new scheme for a further five years from January 2019.
Additional HMO licencing has had a positive impact in addressing issues associated with HMOs since its introduction such as reducing overcrowding in HMOs, stopping / prohibiting the use of small bedrooms, ensuring gas and electrics supplies are safe, improving kitchen and bathroom facilities, making HMOs safer by removing serious hazards such by improving fire safety and dealing with excessively cold homes.
- 63% of licences were issued with extra conditions.
- 43% of properties were found to be not satisfactory at the first visit.
- 16% of HMOs have had their amenity provisions improved through licensing.
- 3356 safety certificates have been received and compliance checked.
However non-compliance from some landlords still continues. Between January 2014 and December 2017 less than half of HMOs inspected were compliant at first inspection. A consultation on a new scheme starting in January 2019, is due to take place in May
Councillor Jane Urquhart, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing & Heritage, said: “People in Nottingham have a right to expect a decent and safe standard of private rented accommodation, which is well managed and maintained. Both schemes aim to raise standards across the different tenancies in the private rented sector and provide quality housing for all.
“This is great news for thousands of Nottingham’s private rented tenants, who will know what is expected of their landlord in terms of property management and standards. Rogue landlords will also be investigated and action taken.
“This is also good news for responsible landlords who are operating legitimately and complying with the law, as Nottingham’s reputation for providing quality housing increases.”
Online applications for Selective Licensing will be available from 1 July 2018 with the scheme coming into force on 1 August 2018. It is a legal requirement for landlords to apply for a licence. Failure to do so can lead to financial penalties of up to £30,000 or unlimited fines if prosecuted through the courts. Tenants can also apply to a tribunal to claim their rent back for up to 12 months.
For more information about the scheme visit www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/qualityhousingforall
To check if your property is affected search My Property at www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk