What is a HMO?
Local HMO Plans
Ten Point Plan
Leeds HMO Lobby
Use Classes Order
Taxation of HMOs
Students & Community
National HMO Lobby
to the Consultation on the Implementation
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
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
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.
The National HMO Lobby is an association of over
two-dozen community groups in twenty towns in all parts of the UK,
who are concerned to ameliorate the impact of concentrations of
HMOs on their communities. Details of the composition and constitution
of the Lobby are available on its website,
and its membership is listed in the Annex.
Members of the Lobby have long campaigned for licensing of HMOs.
Therefore we welcome the advent of the new Housing Act 2004, and
we welcome the opportunity to contribute to the Consultation on
the Implementation of HMO Licensing.
In the following response, the lobby has answered all of the fifty-five
Questions in Part 3 of the Consultation (except
for a few where we lack expertise). In addition, the Lobby has submitted
five Propositions on issues relating to HMO licensing,
in response to Parts 1 and 2 of the Paper.
In the responses below, the Questions have been
abbreviated. And references are to the Clauses of the final Act
(not to the Bill, as in the Consultation Paper).
Responding to the Consultation
Sustainable communities are a significant consideration in addressing
the problem of HMOs. ODPM has adopted Creating Sustainable Communities
as its motto, and its policies, especially in housing, are oriented
towards this aim (it is one of eight key principles in the Housing
Green Paper Quality & Choice of 2000). The Consultation
on HMO Licensing reiterates this concern, for instance, in the last
Question. However, sustainable communities are actually created,
not by government (though government can help), but by the residents
themselves. It is surprising therefore that the List of Consultees
in Annex B makes no reference to residents, neither the tenants
of HMOs nor their neighbours. The providers of HMOs, the landlords,
are well represented (something like a dozen organisations), and
so is practically every other conceivably interested party (from
the English Tourist Board to the Trades Union Congress). But no
tenant representative is included. Nor is that ‘invisible
third party’, the local community, on whom both tenants and
landlords depend for a decent neighbourhood. In order to represent
those communities, a national network has developed spontaneously,
and it is now sufficiently numerous and widespread to be representative.
Therefore, the Lobby proposes that any future consultation
on houses in multiple occupation includes representation of communities,
through the National HMO Lobby.
PART 1, Background – Licensing in the Private
Key Facts About the Private Rented Sector
P2 Key Facts
The Key Facts provided in paragraph 1 (p11) are important, to establish
both the significance of this sector (10% national stock) and its
problematic nature (poor, old, transient, etc). However, the generic
nature of the figures given obscures some of its more problematic
features, which can be very particular. For instance, a combination
of the ‘cottage-industry’ nature of the PRS (private
individuals, single properties), the transience of PRS tenants,
and the youth of those tenants, very often leads to concentrated
markets. A street or a neighbourhood acquires a reputation
for a particular lifestyle, which attracts both demand (from tenants)
and supply (from landlords), leading to concentrations. Some concentrations
may be comparatively small, but very seriously problematic, such
as HMOs occupied by benefit claimants in seaside towns. Other concentrations
are much larger, such as student HMOs in university towns (in 2001,
for instance, in Headingley Ward in Leeds, the PRS [largely HMOs]
accommodated 59% of the population; meanwhile in Leeds as a whole,
the student market accounts for a half of the city’s PRS).
Policy for the PRS in general, and for HMOs in particular, therefore
needs to be sensitive, not only to the general characteristics of
the sector, but also to particular (local) developments, which are
peculiar to the sector. (In this regard, contrary to paragraph 45
[p26-7], dispersal of the PRS should in some cases be seen as an
asset, rather than a disadvantage.) Therefore, 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.
Challenges in the Private Rented Sector
The major challenge posed by the private rented sector is overlooked
in the Consultation Paper – and this is the inherent tension
between the sector and the government’s (ODPM’s) aim
of creating sustainable communities (noted in P1). The
essential pre-requisite for a sustainable community is a stable
population. The twin pillars of community are both to do with ‘connection’
– spatial connection, or neighbourliness, the basis
for a neighbourhood; and temporal connection, or continuity
or stability, the essence of sustainability. But the use of the
private rented sector for housing in Britain is inimical to these
requirements. The Survey of English Housing for 2003 shows that
# 45% of all new households were in PRS, # the median length
of stay in the private rented sector is 1.6 years, and # over
half of all moves were to, in or from PRS [ODPM, Housing
Statistics 21 & 23]. (‘Rapid turnover’ as a source
of problems is in fact noted in paragraph 3 [p18].) A small proportion
of privately rented properties in any neighbourhood presents no
threat. But as noted in P2, there are distinct tendencies towards
concentrations. Certainly, as these increase, then the sustainability
of the host community decreases (the corollary of the tenure figures
for Headingley Ward noted in P2 is that in 2001 also, according
to the Electoral Roll, 50% of electors were new to the Ward.) Para
13 (p13) suggests that ‘problems either for tenants or for
the public’ arise from bad management. But this is not the
only cause – in fact, it is frequently the case that it is
the concentrations of HMOs which give rise to the problems.
It is not going too far to suggest that, contrary to paragraphs
6 and 14 (pp12, 14), anti-social behaviour and HMOs are not distinct
problems, but frequently causally related. The PRS therefore presents
a direct challenge to the aims of the ODPM. The Lobby
proposes that the challenge posed to sustainability by the private
rented sector be explicitly recognised in policy development for
PART 2, Background – HMO Licensing
What are the problems of HMOs?
P4 Problems: Markets
The composition of the housing category ‘house in multiple
occupation’ is misleadingly over-simplified in the Consultation
Paper. Paragraph 2 (p11) hints that there are three markets for
the private rented sector in general - those otherwise homeless
(claimants), or students, or young professionals. These markets
are widely recognised. But the Paper fails to relate them to HMOs
in particular. It is simply not the case that “HMOs, such
as bedsits and shared houses, often fall at the bottom end of the
private rented sector market”(paragraph 1, p18). HMOs in one
of the markets (claimants) may well do so; but many HMOs in the
other markets simply do not. Claimants may otherwise be homeless,
but students (for instance) are not (indeed, their HMOs are effectively
second homes). Claimant HMOs may be ‘at the bottom end’,
but in Leeds, the average rent for a room in a student HMO is currently
£55 per week (and many are higher). Claimants may be vulnerable,
but students (for example) have the support, not only of their parents,
but also of powerful institutions (universities, student unions).
Claimants certainly are disadvantaged, but students are overwhelmingly
(75%) from middle-class backgrounds. HMOs in particular, like the
PRS in general, are provided for a number of very different markets.
This means that HMOs in general are neither so vital nor so vulnerable
as the Paper implies. Indeed, in many areas (in university towns),
HMOs constitute a very robust market. Therefore, the
Lobby proposes that the wide range of markets for HMOs be properly
recognised in policy development.
P5 Problems: Housing Provision
The distinction between markets for HMOs considered in P4
has a bearing on their significance for housing provision. Certainly,
housing is needed for those who might otherwise be homeless. But
it is important to bear in mind that HMOs are rarely purpose-built
(the main exception is cluster-flats for students). They usually
come into existence by means of conversion, either of social-rented
properties (sold to tenants, and then sold on to the private sector)
or of owner-occupied properties (family homes converted to HMOs).
There may be a case for this conversion, if it is to house the homeless.
It is a lot less certain that there is a good case for converting
social-rented or owner-occupied properties into second homes for
students. Tens of thousands of homes have undergone this process,
and at a time of general housing shortage, have been removed from
the general housing market. The estimate in paragraph 3 (p12) that
“the sector has ceased to grow” is contradicted by the
assertion of “the growing demand for student accommodation”
(paragraph 1, p18). If this demand is to be met, there are far better
ways of doing so. Therefore, the Lobby proposes that
the problematic contribution of HMOs to housing provision be properly
recognised in policy development.
Additional Licensing [Clause 56]
Q1 How should authorities determine whether particular types
of HMO are being managed effectively?
The Lobby welcomes the introduction of mandatory licensing, and
in the absence of broader criteria for such licensing, it also welcomes
the provision for additional licensing. The Lobby welcomes these
measures because it is well aware of the problems which can arise
from the development of HMOs (especially in concentration). The
individuals who comprise the member organisations of the Lobby are
committed citizens, who spend a great deal of their own time and
resources (not only material, but also emotional energy) in endeavouring
to ameliorate these problems.
The problems are of various kinds # they may affect tenants
of individual HMOs (in terms of health & safety); # they may
affect immediate neighbours of individual HMOs (in terms
of the quiet enjoyment of their properties); and # where concentrations
of HMOs arise, they may affect whole neighbourhoods (in
terms of disruption through a high incidence of low-level anti-social
behaviour, making neighbourhoods no longer clean and quiet and safe),
as noted in P3.
It is clear from the Consultation Paper that this last type of problem
is well within the remit of HMO licensing. Paragraph 44 (p26) is
explicit that the overall aim is “a strategic approach aimed
at building and enhancing sustainable communities.” And it
is equally clear from the preceding paragraphs (41-43) that a key
issue in achieving this is tackling anti-social behaviour. In order
to tackle ASB, it is important to identify the different forms this
may take. At one extreme lies the ‘neighbour-from-hell’,
the individual household whose extreme behaviour makes life intolerable
for their immediate neighbours. But at the other end of the spectrum,
and in the end, equally intolerable, is a lower level of ASB (carelessness
of the environment, of noise levels, of security measures) perpetrated
by large numbers of (transitory) tenants. Both are equally destructive
of the sustainability of a community.
These different forms of anti-social behaviour need to be tackled
in different ways. The first type is individual and particular,
the last is generic. The first (like the problems affecting HMO
tenants) clearly may be traced back to the management of individual
HMOs, and may be addressed in Management Regulations (see Q20).
The situation is different however in the case of the impact of
low-level ASB on the neighbourhood as a whole. Here, it is not individual
HMOs which are the problem, rather it is the cumulative impact of
concentrations of HMOs. The problems are real: but it is not realistic
to hold individual landlords responsible. As the number of HMOs
in an area increases, and the population becomes increasingly transient,
then the ‘social capital’ (the networks of relationships,
the neighbourliness in fact) which sustains a neighbourhood decreases.
The real solution is to prevent such concentrations arising. But
where they have arisen, it becomes necessary to address the area’s
problems holistically, not piecemeal – that is, it is not
a matter of trying to identify particular HMOs as problematic, because
it is the accumulation which is problematic. It is invidious
to try to identify individual landlords as responsible. It is fairer
in fact to all landlords to establish a level playing-field, as
it were, whereby responsibility for the problem is accepted by all
the property-owners of the neighbourhood. If all are to be treated
equally, this means licensing of all HMOs across the board –
that is, the introduction of additional licensing. The problem for
local authorities therefore is not only to identify whether particular
HMOs are being managed effectively – it is also to identify
areas where HMO provision otherwise undermines the sustainability
of a neighbourhood.
In these circumstances, an Amenity Audit of an area of HMOs could
be conducted. Such an Audit would seek to identify how clean and
quiet and safe an area was (or was felt to be). The Audit would
consider # the environment (condition of buildings and
of curtilages, levels and management of rubbish and litter, quality
of streetscene [street blight, like graffiti, flyposting, letting
boards, etc]), # quiet enjoyment (disturbances inside HMOs,
in their grounds, in the street), and # community safety
(incidence of burglary, damage, use of security grilles). The Audit
could be conducted by external surveys, or residents’ records,
or both. Where such an Audit identified inadequate amenity, this
would clearly demonstrate a lack of effective management of the
area as a whole – not by individual landlords, nor by individual
tenants, but by the residents of the area collectively (both landlords
and tenants). Such circumstances would demonstrate the need for
the designation of the area for additional licensing. Therefore,
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.
Q2 What additional or alternative general
approvals might be given in relation to additional licensing?
The Lobby welcomes the principle of general approvals as a means
of simplifying the designation of areas for additional licensing
of HMOs. The Lobby welcomes the proposal in the Consultation Paper
that these include local authorities whose Comprehensive Performance
Assessment is categorised overall as Excellent or Good.
The Lobby recommends that the proposal “to give general approval
to authorities in market renewal pathfinder areas to undertake selective
licensing” be adopted also for additional licensing.
The Consultation Paper indicates that HMO problems may arise from
in-built structural causes (paragraphs 15-20, pp21-22, discuss poorly-converted
blocks of flats as one such case). The Lobby argues that concentrations
of HMOs represent another structural cause of problems.
Where the majority of properties in a street are HMOs, the problems
endemic to the private rented sector noted in P3
are concentrated. It is quite beyond the capacity of individual
landlords in such a situation to address (for example) problems
of low-level anti-social behaviour. Some local authorities have
recognised this as a problem. In Northern Ireland, a concentration
of HMOs may be grounds for refusing a licence. In Scotland, Glasgow
and Fife (where HMO licensing is already in place) have set thresholds
of a maximum of 5% of HMOs in any street. This may be seen as a
maximum threshold. A minimum threshold might be 33%, so that other
tenures still remain double the number of HMOs. A reasonable and
realistic threshold probably lies somewhere between these limits
(there is a general consensus among members of the Lobby that HMO-related
problems become significant when the proportion exceeds 20-25%).
Therefore 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
Q3 Are there specific issues on which guidance is likely
to be necessary for the implementation of HMO licensing?
As the Lobby has noted in response to Q1 and Q2, concentrations
of HMOs inherently give rise to problems. The greatest recent contribution
to the rise of such concentrations has been the demand for student
accommodation, following g the expansion of higher education. The
government has recognised these problems, and two government departments,
ODPM and DfES (together with LGA and UUK) are currently jointly
supporting research into these problems, and best practice in addressing
them. The research results are due to be published in the early
part of 2005. The Lobby recommends that any pertinent conclusions
drawn by the DfES Student Housing Project be used to inform the
guidance given to local authorities.
PART 3, Implementation – Consultation on
Proposals for Secondary Legislation
Section 1, Threshold for Mandatory Licensing [Clause 55]
Q4 How should three storeys be defined?
The Lobby considers that in most properties what counts as a storey
will be clear, including attics and basements capable of being used
for residential purposes. However, it is also the case that some
buildings may include floors which are ‘little more than architectural
features’ (paragraph 4, p32). 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.
Q5 Is it desirable to include parts of the building not
used for residential purposes?
The Lobby considers that all parts of a building should be included
in setting the definition for mandatory licensing. Non-residential
storeys, whether above or below the residential floors, may nevertheless
be occupied, and therefore contribute to the risks to occupants.
Q6 How do you think children should be treated?
The Lobby considers that as a matter of principle (the rights
of the child) children should be counted fully as ‘persons’
for the purposes of the threshold for mandatory licensing.
Section 2, Households for HMOs [Clause 258]
Q7 Do you agree that foster children and those being cared
for should be included within the definition of a household?
The Lobby agrees that all persons genuinely in the care of the household
concerned (such as foster children) should be included within the
definition of a household for HMO licensing.
Q8 Do you agree that current & former domestic employees
who live with their employers should be considered?
The Lobby agrees that domestic employees who live with their employers
may be considered as part of that household. However, the Lobby
is concerned that this inclusion does not provide opportunities
for the evasion of licensing. It should be clear therefore that
this inclusion applies only to employees (a) whose main occupation
is to provide services to the house or household, (b) who occupy
the property as their main or only residence, and (c) who are employed
by the household they serve.
Section 3, Exemptions from HMO Definition [Schedule
Q9 Do you agree that these buildings should be exempted?
The Lobby agrees that the categories of buildings listed (already
controlled by other legislation) should be exempt from HMO licensing.
Q10 Are there other educational establishments which should
The Lobby does not consider that student housing should be exempt
from HMO licensing, whoever provides it. Educational institutions
are recognised in the Education (Recognised Bodies) Order 2003 for
the purposes of providing education, not for the management of accommodation.
Q11 Do you agree that long leaseholders or freeholders
with two or fewer additional persons should be exempted?
The Lobby agrees that genuine owner-occupiers who also accommodate
no more than one or two lodgers should be exempt from HMO licensing.
However, many shared houses are currently bought by students, by
their parents, or by parents in students’ name; these are
de facto HMOs, but the exemption may be exploited in order
to evade licensing. It should be clear therefore that the exemption
applies only to properties occupied by owners as their only or main
Section 4, Transitional Arrangements [Clause 76]
Q12 Do you agree that a registration should count as a licence
for the remainder of the registration period?
The Lobby agrees that all registrations should be counted as licences,
as proposed in the Consultation, including registration of ‘additional’
HMOs outside the mandatory criteria for licensing.
Q13 Do you agree that HMOs, which have been the subject
of notification schemes only, should not be passported?
The Lobby agrees that HMOs in simple notification schemes should
not be passported in to licensing, as such schemes lack any control
of landlords or their management. However, as a gesture of goodwill,
the Lobby suggests that there should be a nominal discount in the
licence fee for such properties.
Q14 Are the proposals to allow proceedings relating to
the Housing Act 1985 to continue to their conclusion reasonable
The Lobby considers that the proposals relating to proceedings under
the Housing Act 1985 are perfectly reasonable.
Q15 Are any other transitional provisions needed?
Landlords who are members of voluntary accreditation schemes, such
as those recognised by the Accreditation Network UK, should be acknowledged
as responsible landlords. Government should recommend to local authorities
that members of such schemes should qualify for a modest discount
in the licence fee, or some form of ‘smoothtracking’
into licensing, or both. The Lobby recommends that transitional
provisions be made for landlords who are members of voluntary accreditation
Section 5, Management Regulations [Clause 234]
Q16 Do you agree that management regulations should be applied?
The Lobby agrees that management regulations are important to ensure
that a property is kept in good order by a landlord. And they enable
local authorities to have some influence over HMOs not subject to
Q17 Do you agree that all types of HMOs should be subject
to those regulations?
The Lobby agrees that management regulations should apply to all
HMOs, whether or not they are subject to licensing, in the interest
of equity in basic standards.
Q18 Do you agree that these requirements are necessary?
The Lobby agrees that all the requirements listed in paragraphs
16-17 (pp44-45) of the Consultation Paper are necessary, and should
be included in management regulations for HMOs.
Q19 Do you believe that the additional elements in the
remainder of the current management regulations should be retained?
The Lobby considers that the additional elements of the current
Management Regulations, listed in paragraphs 19-20 (pp45-46) of
the Consultation paper should be retained.
Q20 Do you believe that any other regulations should be
The Lobby considers that Management Regulations for HMOs should
include the requirement that reasonably practical steps are taken
to deal with any antisocial behaviour by tenants or their visitors
which affects other tenants or neighbours. The reason for this is
that HMOs are peculiarly susceptible to a high incidence of low-level
antisocial behaviour, which can become intolerable for neighbours.
For instance # occupants are typically single young adults
(rather than of mixed ages), # occupancy of the property
is highly intensive, # occupation is un-governed (for instance,
lacking a family structure), and # the occupiers are short-term.
Any one of these factors encourages a lifestyle which can affect
the degree to which a household is clean, quiet and safe. The combination
of them all in a HMO increases this likelihood. Therefore, the
Lobby recommends that Management Regulations should include measures
to address antisocial behaviour.
6, Approved Code of Practice for HMO Management
Q21 Do you believe there should be an approved Code of Practice?
The Lobby considers that adoption of an approved Code of Practice
for the management of HMOs would be in the interest of all parties
concerned, not only landlords and tenants – but also that
invisible ‘third party’, often overlooked, the neighbouring
community. As the Consultation paper indicates, such a Code will
provide an objective statement of suitable management practice,
useful in various situations, such as designating an area for additional
licensing, and it will provide useful guidance for landlords. It
is not easy to see what alternative approaches would be so effective.
Q22 What are your views on the options for a Code or Codes
In principle, a single Code would seem to offer the simplest and
most straightforward solution. However, the Accreditation Network
UK has found it desirable to develop two model Codes, a basic Landlord
Model Accreditation Scheme and a supplementary National Code of
Standards for Larger Developments. The latter is designed for residences
with twenty-five or more occupants, and is intended especially (but
not only) for student accommodation. In the light of this experience,
the Lobby suggests that two Codes be adopted, for standard HMOs
(less than twenty-five occupants) and for larger HMOs (twenty-five
Q23 Do you consider that the RICS code is an appropriate
approach to the production of a code for HMOs?
The Lobby recommends consideration of the Accreditation Network
UK Codes. The reason is that these Codes recognise that HMOs (and
other private rented sector provision) are significant, not only
for landlords and tenants, but also for the neighbouring community.
The PRS in general, and HMOs in particular (especially in concentration,
as noted in P3), have a significant impact on the
sustainability of a community, especially in terms of keeping that
community clean and quiet and safe. Any Code for HMOs should take
these issues into account, as follows –
· Safety: sound security measures (but see below regarding
alarms and security grilles);
· Environment: waste management (adequate provision), property
(presentable maintenance), curtilage (presentable maintenance),
street scene (responsible use of signboards and security grilles);
· Quiet Enjoyment: responsible use of alarms.
Landlords should also be expected to provide a Code for guidance
on these issues to their tenants, as follows –
· Safety: responsible use of security measures;
· Environment: responsible use of waste disposal, care for
· Quiet Enjoyment: sensitivity over traffic, sensitivity
over the time and place of noisy activities.
These issues are acknowledged in the ANUK Codes. Therefore, the
Lobby recommends that the ANUK Codes be considered as a model for
the production of Codes for HMOs.
Section 7, Amenity Standards [Clause 65]
Q24 Do you believe that national minimum standards should
be applied to the provision of amenities?
Q25 Do you think that national minimum standards should be set for
personal washing facilities?
Q26 Do you think that national minimum standards should be set for
Q27 Do you believe that national minimum standards should be set
for food storage facilities?
Q28 Do you believe that national minimum standards should be set
for cooking facilities?
Q29 Should we set amenity standards for laundry facilities?
Q30 Should standards be set for fire precaution equipment?
The Lobby considers that there should be national minimum standards
for amenities in HMOs, for the sake of equity between local authorities,
in the interests of both landlords and tenants. The Lobby supports
the standards suggested in the Consultation Paper (for example,
washing and cooking facilities not more than one floor distant from
any user, and shared by no more than five persons). Fire safety
equipment should be included.
Section8, Notifications for Additional HMO Licensing
Q31 Are the proposals for publicity reasonable and sufficient?
The Lobby considers that the proposals are reasonable and sufficient.
The local authority should ensure that residents associations are
Q32 What ongoing publicity can be implemented?
The Lobby suggests that the local authority should publish a follow-up
notice in the local press, and should remind all those relevant
associations originally notified (and any new associations) on a
periodic basis (say, every year).
Q33 Do you agree that this is the appropriate information
to be included in the notification?
The Lobby considers that the information proposed in the Consultation
Paper is adequate.
Section 9, Revocation of Additional HMO Licensing
Q34 Do you agree that these are the correct publication
requirements for revocation?
The Lobby considers that the proposed publication requirements for
revocation of areas designated for additional HMO licensing are
Section 10, Licence Applications [Clause 63]
Q35 Is a common form desirable for HMOs and Selective Licence
The Lobby considers that a common form would be desirable, in order
to avoid confusion.
Q36 Should tenants be sent a copy of the application form?
The Lobby considers that tenants should be sent a copy [see Q37].
Q37 How best can authorities fulfil their obligation to
monitor the impact of licensing on ethnic groups and disabled people?
The Lobby considers that tenants rather than landlords should be
responsible for providing information for monitoring purposes. The
Lobby suggests that the copy of the application form supplied to
tenants [Q36] invites them to provide information
on ethnicity and disability.
Q38 Will the details on landlords be sufficient?
Q39 Will the proposed matters listed be sufficient for the authority
to determine whether the applicant is a fit & proper person
without being onerous?
Q40 How can authorities satisfy themselves that a company meets
the good & proper person criteria?
The Lobby lacks the expertise to answer these questions.
Q41 Is there any way in which landlords of several properties
could provide the information once?
The Lobby considers that larger landlords are those most likely
to have access to electronic media, which readily enables duplication
of information. Such landlords therefore should not be inconvenienced
by duplicating information for each of their properties.
Q42 Should landlords be required to provide gas, fire &
furniture safety certificates?
The Lobby considers that any responsible landlord should be able
to provide safety certificates.
Q43 Is the approach proposed the best way to collect information
about facilities or should we ask about baths, sinks, etc rather
The Lobby supports the proposals in the Consultation Paper regarding
Q44 What categories of age of property would be of most
use in monitoring?
The Lobby suggests six age categories: (1) Pre-1900, (2) Pre-War
(1900-1918), (3) Inter-War (1919-1939), (4) Post-War (1939-1979),
Late Century (1979-1997), and (6) New Millennium (1997 onwards).
Q45 How may this information [on minority groups] best
be collected in relation to tenants?
Q46 Where there are problems of ASB it might be useful to know who
is living in the house. Should tenants names be required?
Q47 Should landlords be required to update details on tenants?
The Lobby considers that generic information only on tenants (number
of households, number of individuals) is relevant to the application
process. Landlords of course will have their own records of current
tenants, which can be made available if necessary (for instance,
in the case of anti-social behaviour). Otherwise, the Lobby suggests
that when landlords provide a Code for guidance to tenants (see
Q23) they should also invite all new tenants to
provide information on ethnicity to the local authority.
Q48 Should applications for renewal require only changes
to the original application?
The Lobby considers that applications for renewal should require
full details. Changes that have taken place since the original application
may easily be overlooked.
Q49 What would you expect to be a reasonable level of costs
in setting up mandatory licensing in your local authority area?
Q50 Should there be a cap on fees?
The Lobby lacks the expertise to answer these questions.
Q51 Are there any circumstances in which fees for HMO licensing
should be required to be reduced in all areas?
The Lobby considers that any reductions in fees should be at the
discretion of the local authority, except where registrations are
counted as licences [see Q12]. Government may recommend
reductions in other cases, such as HMOs in notification schemes
[Q13] or accredited landlords [Q15].
Q52 Are there any other circumstances when no fee should
The Lobby is not aware of any other circumstances where no fee would
Section 11, Register of Licences [Clause 232]
Q53 Does including the landlord’s name & address
in the register place the landlord at too great a risk?
The Lobby fails to see why landlords should receive any special
consideration. All other businesses are required to provide contact
details. And all owners who occupy their properties by that fact
are identifiable. There is no good reason to make landlords a special
Q54 Are the matters listed the most appropriate matters
to record in the register?
The Consultation Paper proposes that the Register include information
on the property (units, facilities), the tenants (households &
individuals resident) and the licence (any conditions). Neighbours
of HMOs may also wish to be assured (regardless of the number of
households & individuals currently resident) of the maximum
number of households or persons permitted by the licence. Therefore,
the Lobby recommends that the Register should include
the maximum number of households or persons specified in the licence.
Q55 How best should Government assess the impact of HMO
The Lobby considers that a range of measures are necessary to assess
the impact of HMO licensing, as this licensing is clearly intended
to achieve a number of effects, as noted in Q1.
The Consultation Paper makes clear that licensing is intended to
increase the safety and security of tenants, it is intended
to reduce their adverse impact on neighbours, and it is
intended to contribute to ‘enhancing the sustainability of
communities’ (paragraph 44, p26). The last is the
Lobby’s particular concern. A number of attempts have been
made to characterise the constituents of a ‘sustainable community.’
PPS1 Creating Sustainable Communities (ODPM, 2004) lists
a dozen criteria (Annex A, p17). More systematic is the Egan
Review (ODPM, 2004). The first chapter of the Review identifies
seven key components of a sustainable community, each of which comprises
a number of sub-components. And Annex B lists fifty indicators of
sustainability (corresponding with the components). Of these, the
Overarching indicators (nos 1-4) and those relating to Social &
Cultural Factors (nos 5-11) and to Housing & the Built Environment
(nos 26-33) are perhaps most pertinent. They include residents’
satisfaction with the neighbourhood (no2), ‘belonging’
to a neighbourhood (no5), satisfaction with cleanliness (no28),
and so on. However, Egan omits one essential pre-requisite for sustainability
(which is especially affected by HMOs), and that is population stability.
Therefore, 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.
Dr Richard Tyler, National Co-ordinator, National HMO Lobby
National HMO Lobby