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HMO Licensing

see also, Additional HMO Licensing

Licensing of HMOs was a manifesto commitment of the Government elected in 1997, and two years later, the DETR published the Consultation Paper Licensing of HMOs - England. Meanwhile, licensing was introduced into Scotland in 2000 by The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Order 2000, and into Northern Ireland early in 2004 by The Statutory Registration Scheme for HMOs. Finally, later in 2004, licensing in England & Wales was required by Part 2 of the new Housing Act. During this period, Leeds HMO Lobby responded to the Consultation Paper, lobbied for licensing in the Queen's Speech, and lobbied both the Home Energy Conservation Bill and the Housing Bill as they progressed through Parliament.

The Housing Act 2004 provided for mandatory licensing of larger HMOs and discretionary additional licensing of other HMOs.

In November 2004, following the Housing Act, the ODPM published a consultation paper, Licensing in the Private Rented Sector: Consultation on the Implementation of HMO Licensing. The National HMO Lobby has submitted a Response to the ODPM, as did some of its members, including Leeds HMO Lobby (see below).

The Statutory Instruments 2006 371, 372 and 373, which put Part 2 of the Housing Act into effect, were laid before Parliament on 22 February 2006. Mandatory licensing of HMOs in England began on 6 April 2006. In November 2006, DCLG published Approval steps for additional and selective licensing designations in England. Peterborough City Council will be the first local authority to introduce additional HMO licensing, when its designation comes into effect on 1 July 2009.

The government has commissioned BRE (formerly the Building Research Establishment) to monitor the impact of HMO Licensing. In August 2007, CLG published Evaluating the impact of HMO and Selective Licencing: the baseline before licencing in April 2006. In January 2009, the Lobby submitted Evidence on HMO Licensing to BRE's second phase of research, into the impact of licensing. On 27 January 2010, this second stage was published by CLG in Evaluation of the Impact of HMO Licensing and Selective Licensing.

On the same day, as he was revealing new planning regulations on HMOs, the Minister for Housing & Planning, John Healey MP, also announced a consultation on delegating discretionary licensing to local authorities, General consents for licensing schemes under Parts 2 and 3 of the Housing Act 2004. The National HMO Lobby responded to this consultation on 22 February. The Summary of responses to the consultation was published on 31 March 2010, and the following day, the Minister announced just such a general consent. (But it remains unclear whether appropriate authorisation has been issued to local housiing authorities.) On 31 March 2011, Local Government Regulation published its Final Report on its Discretionary Licensing Support programme 2010/11.

CLG also published a draft Guide to the licensing and management provisions in Parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Housing Act 2004. On 25 March 2010, Communities & Local Government published Strategy for seaside success: Securing the future of seaside economies, which pointed out the value of general consents for licensing schemes to seaside towns.

In 2011, the Cabinet Office began a 'Red Tape Challenge' to reduce bureaucracy. From 12 January to 17 February 2012, the spotlight was turned on Housing & Construction. The spotlight included a number of sub-categories, one of which was the 'Private Rented Sector', which included HMO regulations. This section attracted 59 comments, half of which (28) were partly or entirely concerned with HMOs. Most comments came from residents or council officers; five landlords commented. Half of the comments (17) supported the regulations as they stood; another seven recommended revisions. Seven thought the regulations should be reduced (including all the landlords). On 16 January, the Lobby posted its comment on HMO Regulations. On 31 January 2013, the results of the Challenge were published. There are a couple of hundred items on the Housing & Construction list, but only five of these refer to HMOs (nos 65, 66, 92, 93, 94), two on HMO Management and three on Licensing of HMOs. None are to be scrapped, and two are to be 'improved', (that is by "merging, simplifying, improving implementation, etc.").

On 30 January 2012, Oxford City Council introduced licensing of all its HMOs. "Oxford City Council is the first council in the country to introduce a HMO licensing scheme that covers the whole of its area and that requires every HMO to be licensed."

On 28 February, CLG published its Third Statement of New Regulation, which is a forward look at which are being introduced by the Department which impact on businesses. They are scheduled to come into force between 1 January 2012 and 30 June 2012. One of the measures included is simplifying the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Re-licensing Process. "Whilst retaining the existing mandatory HMO licensing provisions in the Housing Act 2004, this measure simplifies the re-licensing process for HMOs."

On 6 November 2015, CLG published a technical discussion document on Extending mandatory licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and related reforms. On 7 December 2015, the National HMO Lobby supported the proposal to extend mandatory licensing to all HMOs occupied by five or more people.

The National HMO Lobby has produced a Notification Form for residents to notify their local authority of HMOs liable to licensing [available from the Lobby].

RESPONSE
SUMMARY
Propositions & Recommendations

Proposition 1 The Lobby proposes that any future consultation on houses in multiple occupation includes representation of communities, through the National HMO Lobby.

Proposition 2 The Lobby proposes that PRS policy should recognise that the sector is not uniformly distributed throughout communities, but frequently develops in small or large concentrations.

Proposition 3 The Lobby proposes that the challenge posed to sustainability by the private rented sector be explicitly recognised in policy development for this sector.

Proposition 4 The Lobby proposes that the wide range of markets for HMOs be properly recognised in policy development.

Proposition 5 The Lobby proposes that the problematic contribution of HMOs to housing provision be properly recognised in policy development.

Question 1 The Lobby recommends that one way of determining whether HMOs in an area are managed adequately to sustain the community is to conduct an Amenity Audit.

Question 2 The Lobby recommends that general approval for additional licensing should be given for any street where HMOs exceed a specific threshold, such as 20% of properties or 25% of residents.

Question 3 The Lobby recommends that any pertinent conclusions drawn by the DfES Student Housing Project be used to inform the guidance given to local authorities.

Question 4 The Lobby recommends that in order to identify a storey, a test of ‘occupiability’ be employed: if a floor is occupiable (for purposes of work, rest or play), then it counts as a storey; if it is not effectively occupiable, then it is discounted.

Question 15 The Lobby recommends that transitional provisions be made for landlords who are members of voluntary accreditation schemes.

Question 20 The Lobby recommends that Management Regulations should include measures to address antisocial behaviour.

Question 23 The Lobby recommends that the Accreditation Network UK Codes be considered as a model for the production of Codes for HMOs.

Question 54 The Lobby recommends that the Register should include the maximum number of households or persons specified in the licence.

Question 55 The Lobby recommends that the impact of HMO licensing on communities be assessed (a) by reference to selected indicators from the Egan Review, and (b) by reference to population turnover in Output Areas where HMOs are located.

 


National HMO Lobby
email: hmolobby@hotmail.com website: www.hmolobby.org.uk