Big changes to HMO licensing on the way

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Hundreds more houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) in the district will require a licence under new national legislation coming into force this autumn.

By 1 October, owners of any property, including flats above commercial premises, in which five or more tenants not from the same household share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom must have, or at least have applied for, an HMO licence from the city council. Those that have not face being prosecuted or fined up to £30,000.

The council estimates that up to 800 more properties in the district will need to be licensed under the new regulations and is urging landlords to submit their applications as early as possible.

A licence is needed for each property they own that meets the criteria. It costs £1,068 for a property comprising up to five bedrooms and an additional £61 per extra unit of accommodation which is let. A licence can last for up to five years.

As well as the potential for landlords to be prosecuted or fined, tenants may also be able to claim back any rent paid during the time when the property should have been licensed but wasn’t.

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “This is the biggest shake-up of HMO licensing rules for many years and aims to improve standards in this type of accommodation.

“We’ve been talking with landlords for some time about these changes, so it’s not news to them, but this is now the final push to ensure outstanding applications come into us as soon as they can. We will turn them round as quickly as possible, but we don’t want a situation where everything is left until the last minute.”

Under current HMO licensing rules, only 210 properties in the district are licensed. These are defined as being rented to five or more people who form more than one household, are at least three storeys high and have shared facilities such as a toilet or bathroom.

More information and an HMO licence application form are available on the council’s website.

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