News: Good landlords have nothing to fear from HMOs

Landlords and property managing agents letting reasonable/good quality houses in multiple occupation have nothing to fear from HMO licensing, housing minister Baroness Andrews has said.

"Landlords with HMOs that are well managed and provide decent quality accommodation should face a straightforward licensing process," she said.

Licensing is part of a nationwide drive to improve standards in private rented accommodation. Landlords with licensable properties can apply from 6 April 2006.

Properties of three or more floors, with five or more tenants belonging to two or more households, by law, will require a licence from the Local Authority. Some Local Authorities may also licence smaller private rented properties or properties in areas with low housing demand or significant problems of anti-social behaviour.

Baroness Andrews explained: "HMOs provide much needed affordable housing, particularly for younger people. However, tenants in larger shared properties are often vulnerable to poor housing conditions."

"Fewer than 5% of landlords are members of an association and increasing numbers of private individuals are operating with just one rental property."

Mandatory licensing standardises existing registration schemes across England, making the process simpler for landlords and tenants to understand.

Stringent enforcement will also make it difficult for landlords to evade licensing. Those who fail to comply before 3 July 2006 may face fines of up to £20,000, a criminal record and potentially, rent repayment orders.

Whilst legislation is unlikely to significantly raise tenants' awareness of environmental health and safety requirements, it will enforce the implementation of regulations on their behalf.

To grant a licence the local authority must be satisfied that:

  • The proposed licence holder, the landlord or managing agent, are 'fit and proper' people
  • Properties and tenancies are managed appropriately
  • The accommodation meets all minimum standards such as sufficient number of toilets, kitchens and bathrooms for the number of residents
  • Local authorities can attach additional conditions when issuing licences The costs of licences vary and are determined by local authorities.

For more information on mandatory HMO licensing and to identify whether you have a property that needs licensing, visit www.propertylicence.gov.uk

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