Planning and Housing

18.10.16

New duties proposed for councils to tackle poor-quality rental homes

Councils will be required to inspect more houses of multiple occupancy (HMOs) to ensure they are following regulations on safe rented housing under new proposals from the DCLG

Currently, mandatory licensing applies to HMOs of three or more storeys which are occupied by at least five people in at least two households.

The government is now proposing to remove the storey requirement, and also applying mandatory licensing to flats in converted buildings or buildings where other parts are used for commercial or non-residential purposes.

It is estimated that this will mean 174,000 more buildings will be subject to mandatory licensing.

Gavin Barwell, the housing and planning minister, said: “These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area.

“By driving out rogue landlords that flout the rules out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.”

A survey by Shelter, published yesterday, found that 43% of homes in Britain fail to meet the charity’s ‘Living Home Standard’, with 18% suffering from poor conditions, including pests, damp and safety hazards.

The proposals will have to be debated by Parliament, but are expected to come into force in 2017. Councils will then be expected to seek out buildings which will need to apply for mandatory licensing. They charge fees for a licence, which cover the costs of running local schemes and undertaking inspections.

It would also be illegal to let a room that is smaller than 6.52 square metres, or has a ceiling lower than 1.5 metres.

Other proposals include criminal record checks for landlords applying for licences mandatory, and making licensing conditional on landlords providing adequate containers for waste. The consultation is open until 13 December. To take part, click here.

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