At the Environment Committee on 14 July 2022 Members agreed to instigating the consultation process for a proposed additional licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) for the wards Marine, Hotham and River, to cover privately rented properties occupied by three or four people making up two or more households and properties converted into self contained flats that meet the definition of Section 257 HMOs.
The statutory 10 week consultation took place between 12 June to 20 August 2023 and this report details the results and outcomes of this consultation.
Upon the invitation of the Chair, the Principal Environmental Health Officer introduced the report to Committee. The report had originated from a Full Council resolution with two strands, the first relating to the quantity of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Planning Policy Committee had implemented Article 4 Directions in January 2023, which meant that any new HMOs in the wards of River, Hotham and Marine now required planning permission. This report related to the second strand, which was the quality of HMOs, and proposed an extension to the type of HMOs requiring a licence. Currently there was a mandatory national HMO licence scheme that required any property with five or more people forming two or more households, sharing facilities to hold a licence. The Housing Act 2004 gave Local Authorities the discretion to introduce additional HMO licensing schemes. This could be to extend the type of properties that required licensing and could apply to the whole district or certain wards. The Council commissioned a report by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) and following the evidence and data provided, a public consultation took place between 12 June – 20 August 2023 on the proposal to introduce an additional HMO licensing scheme in the wards of River, Hotham and Marine. This would include properties occupied by three or four occupants forming two or more households, sharing facilities. It would also include Section 257 HMOs, which were properties converted into self-contained flats where the conversion did not meet current Building Regulations, with less than two thirds of the flats owner-occupied.
The aims of the scheme was to improve the standard of accommodation in the three wards. The report included a summary of the consultation results and feedback. There had been 99 responses to the survey, 69 being owner-occupiers, 14 tenants, 10 landlords and 6 other. 5 individual representations had been made. In summary there was agreement and support for the types of properties to be included within the scheme, the wards to be targeted and what the aims of the scheme would achieve. However, it must be noted that the highest number of respondents were from either tenants or owner occupiers, as opposed to landlords.
The HMO Licensing was a cost recovery scheme, and an analysis of the current mandatory licensing regime had been undertaken to ensure the Council had used a clear evidence base to set fees in order to fully recover the allowable costs incurred in regulating these properties. The proposed fees were shown at paragraph 4.35 and would be set for the 5 year term of the license. There was a risk to realising this income, based on the accuracy of figures from the BRE and also the risk of potential for landlords to choose to move out of the market. Resources would be required in terms of a Team Leader, HMO Officer and Technical Support Assistants, which were identified at paragraph 4.29. The additional licensing scheme, if introduced, would be for a five year period, after which time ... view the full minutes text for item 382