Extension of HMO Licensing the First Year
- Meeting of Housing and Community Safety Policy and Scrutiny Committee, Monday, 25 November 2019 5.30 pm (Item 30.)
Members will receive an information paper advising what has happened during the first year of the extension of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing to properties with 5 or more occupants forming more than one household irrespective of the number of storeys. This report does not cover the limitations of the current laws.
Members received an information paper advising on progress during the first year of the extension of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing to properties with 5 or more occupants forming more than one household irrespective of the number of storeys.
Ruth Abbot, Housing Standards and Adaptation Manager and Tom Brittain, Assistant Director for Housing and Community Safety were in attendance to present the report and to respond to questions.
The following information was provided in response to questions from committee members:
· Landlords and housing agencies are invited to attend various training sessions held at West Offices, for example, fire hazard training – 124 people had attended this session and there were a number of people on the waiting list.
· Officers had hoped that the code of practice would have prepared landlords better.
· All relevant properties would be required to have been registered for a licence within 18 months. Officers had a list of those who they considered should be licensed and were following that up.
· Officers explained that they take into account a landlord’s history of compliance when issuing a licence.
· At the moment officers issue mandatory licencing. A further licencing scheme would be where officers had determined, in consultation with legal services, that there is a case. This would involve putting a case together, informing the applicant and consulting on that decision for 30 days. This is open to challenge.
· To extend the process of inspection would require more enforcement officers, trained to the right level. Enforcement is not covered through the licencing fee. At the moment officers do desk top analysis to make a decision on whether enforcement officers are required to visit.
· Officers confirmed that the current pace of inspections was good.
· Key aspects which were not covered by licencing were modern slavery, car wash workers and food workers. Officers mentioned the need to consider the intelligence received and landlords below their radar.
· Officers publicise information on the council’s website regarding how to report concerns. Once a concern is reported, a decision is made regarding how this is prioritised. A follow up might not necessarily lead to a visit. Officers had prioritising the properties with the most concerns first.
· A licence lasts for up to 5 years. If officers have issued a hazardous awareness notice the landlord would be issued with a fixed period of time to address this and they would be required to evidence this.
· Officers confirmed that the majority of issues arise form accidental landlords with a small property portfolio, who claim to be unaware of their legal obligations.
Members considered that if someone is receiving some income from renting a property that they should be aware of and responsible for their legal obligations. The chair requested a further update report to be received by this committee in June/July next year. Depending on what the findings indicate, the committee may consider expanding licensing and enforcement.
That the committee:
(i) Noted the information only report.
(ii) Requested an update report to be received in June/July next year.
Reason: To ensure that Members are kept informed on the findings of the first year of HMO licensing.