New licensing for HMOs – what landlords need to know

28/02/2018

Brighton and Hove City Council recently announced plans to change licensing for housing in multiple occupation (HMOs). This scheme is not new to the city and similar licensing regulations are already in place in certain wards, such as Lewes Road. Now the scheme will apply to landlords across the entire city and will come into play on 1st March 2018. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you’re in line with the new scheme.

Who does it affect?

The licensing scheme is specifically for HMOs and applies to any home with three or more occupants, excluding families, comprising two or more storeys. Under the new scheme, anyone who owns and manages an HMO will have to apply for the new licence. The licence will be issued to those landlords who are deemed a “fit and proper” person to be a licence holder.

What do landlords need to do?

There are four steps that are necessary in order to become fully licensed. Firstly, contact needs to be made with the planning department to ascertain if the property is eligible for an HMO. Secondly, the property and the landlord must be assessed by an HMO officer to determine their suitability for the licence. Thirdly, the landlord must provide sufficient evidence of the property’s safety and soundness, including electric, gas and energy efficiency certificates. Finally, the correct licence fee must be paid by the landlord; this is £670 for homes with three to five occupiers, £710 for those with six to eight occupiers, £750 for those with nine to eleven occupiers, and so on. Licences must be renewed regularly.

Why is the scheme happening?

UK law states that to introduce this licensing scheme, the council must identify that there are a significant proportion of HMOs within the constituency that are being managed ineffectively to the disadvantage of both occupants and the general public. The council’s records showed that almost 88% of HMOs in the city required improvements before they could be deemed fit for occupancy.

The council’s own, independent research discovered that tenants make an average of 80 requests for assistance per month, with complaints including disrepair, safety concerns and public health issues.

As such, the new licence scheme is designed to give tenants more confidence to report issues, ensure that increasing tenant turnover does not affect the liveability of an HMO and ensure that properties are managed effectively.

How can we help?

At Mishon Mackay, we want to make sure our landlords are all in the know when it comes to the new licensing scheme. To take the stress out of the application process, our expert team will manage the whole thing for you. From arranging HMO officer appointments to collating the necessary paperwork, we’re here to support you.

Don’t get caught out by the upcoming changes. Get in touch with the friendly and professional Mishon Mackay lettings team for advice on your next steps.