Council scheme offers further protection for private tenants

HMO Licensing

Nottingham City Council today took another important step in its drive to continue raising standards in private rented properties and provide quality housing for all.

A new scheme of Additional Licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs or shared houses) has been given approval today (Tuesday 18 September 2018) by the council’s Executive Board.

Additional Licensing was first introduced in 2014 and applies to privately rented Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).  This scheme ends in December and the new scheme will start in January 2019 for a further five years. The green light to operate the scheme follows a consultation earlier this year where tenants, landlords and residents had their say on the proposals. Two-thirds of those who completed the survey supported the introduction of the proposed scheme.

The scheme aims to:

  • Protect the health, safety and wellbeing of tenants and communities by ensuring safe, well-managed properties and higher quality standards within HMOs in the licensable area.
  • Help inform tenants of what to expect from their landlord and what is expected of them as a tenant, through better communication and management of properties.
  • Provide increased powers to inspect properties which otherwise would not be inspected unless a complaint had been received and increased enforcement tools to help tackle rogue, bad and non-compliant landlords.
  • Ensure the property is safe and at a suitable standard for tenants. This helps landlords find and keep good tenants and helps to raise the profile of good quality private rented accommodation in the city.

The current licensing scheme has had a positive impact on problems associated with HMOs since its introduction in 2014, such as inadequate gas, electrical and fire safety, overcrowding and insufficient facilities, poor internal and external property conditions as well as anti-social behaviour like noise nuisance and waste management. The new scheme has been approved to continue and build on these positive outcomes.

Poor housing conditions and poor property management can have a serious impact on people’s health and wellbeing, such as accidents and injuries, increased anxiety, stress and depression, respiratory problems and aggravated allergies.

A new, tiered licensing fee structure will be introduced meaning those landlords who provide a good quality licence application, or have accreditation, will pay a lower fee. Higher fees are being introduced for landlords who are consistently non-complaint or provide a poor application.

As with all housing licensing schemes, the council cannot make a profit from the scheme and license fees will be used for the operation costs, compliance and enforcement. The licence fee has not changed since 2014 and so the new fee, also reflects cost changes over the past five years. Fees will be reviewed annually to ensure the scheme remains cost neutral.

The licence fee will now comprise of two payments – one at application and one when the licence is issued, and cost between £990 and £1720. Each licence, if granted, can last up to five years, as long as the conditions of the licence are met and no other offences occur. Additional fees may apply depending on the nature of an individual application.

Councillor Jane Urquhart, the City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Housing said: “This scheme, along with others, is a major part of our plans to improve all types of private rented housing in the city. We believe that something as important as providing decent and safe housing should be monitored and kept in check via a licensing scheme in the same way as taxis, pet shops and some beauty treatments.

“Not only does the scheme help to improve poorer standards of accommodation, it means tenants know what is expected of their landlord in terms of the management of their home. It also helps us to tackle rogue and bad landlords by providing a clear set of guidelines which all landlords need to meet, and helps prevent bad landlords cutting corners or ‘undercutting’ good ones, creating a level playing field for all.”

Nottingham City Council has introduced a number of licencing schemes in the city to help ensure all the different types of private rented properties are safe, well managed and maintained.

The Additional Licensing scheme requires a licence to be held for HMO properties in certain areas of the city where either three or four people, who are not related, live together and share facilities like bathrooms and kitchens. It will covers all or parts of the following areas: Arboretum, Dunkirk, Lenton, The Park, Radford, Hyson Green, New Basford, Hockley/Lace Market, Mapperley, Sherwood, Carrington, Wollaton Park, Sneinton and Old Meadows.

Forthcoming changes to Mandatory Licensing – a national licensing scheme covering the larger HMO properties in the whole of the city – means that some properties which are currently under Additional Licensing will be automatically ‘passported’ into Mandatory Licensing by the council.

Selective Licensing, a private rented licensing scheme that was introduced by the council in August this year, aims to raise standards in homes, which are not HMOs.

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