Poverty and Inequality

04.04.19

Bristol council brings in licencing scheme for private landlords to protect renters

Private landlords in 12 areas across Bristol will now have to pay £1,200 for licensing to rent properties as part of a council’s bid to improve protection for renters.

Bristol City Council has agreed to expand the licensing scheme to wards identified as areas with high concentrations of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), meaning landlords there will have to pay a fee which will fund the scheme and the inspection teams.

An independent survey commissioned by the council found that one in five of the properties were at an immediate risk to the safety of tenants, with one in three homes in Bristol rented privately.

It is expected to cost the council around £1m a year to inspect 6,000 properties, and landlords who don’t meet the required standards or refuse to get a license could be given substantial fines and enforcement action will be considered.

The scheme applies to HMOs, which are properties rented to three or more people who aren’t related, including hundreds of shared student houses, and the council has targeted the houses whose standards are more likely to be lower than the city average.

The council say the licensing scheme will help improve property conditions as officers will be able to inspect every privately rented property to ensure it meets regulations.

This comes as the university minister Chris Skidmore has warned that landlords who fail to meet standards for student accommodation will “face justice” under new regulations.

Councillor Paul Smith, cabinet member for housing, said: “I am delighted that this vital scheme is being rolled out across central Bristol. We know from experience that licensing is a good way to deal with issues of poor standards of accommodation and inefficient property management.

“Although most landlords are providing quality rented accommodation and a good service to their tenants, we are aware that a significant number of HMOs are being poorly managed and maintained in these areas.

“As the private rented sector continues to grow, it is vital that we continue to take steps to help protect vulnerable tenants and ensure that everyone in the city has access to decent housing.”

The licences will typically last five years, and several thousand licenses have already been issued following the scheme’s use in other parts of Bristol.

The chair of the Association of Local Landlords in Wessex, Rob Crawford, said: “We are aware there are landlords who are not as good as others and do need some help and education in providing the appropriate standard of accommodation.

“But why should good landlords be charged to address those issues from rogue landlords?”

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