This month, NLA Director of Policy and Practice Chris Norris, provides a timely reminder to landlords of the imminent changes to HMO licensing.
The issue: Legislative changes to HMO licensing
The government is set to extend the scope of mandatory HMO licensing in England from October, requiring an extra 177,000 properties to be licensed. But the NLA has concerns over the readiness of some councils and landlords.
With just over six weeks to go before the reforms take effect we have serious concerns, which have yet to be addressed. We are seeing a lot of inconsistencies in the state of readiness demonstrated by local authorities, ranging from those that claim to know next to nothing about the changes to others that are quite well prepared and geared up to receive applications. But we are in that period where, if landlords don’t want to fall foul of the legislative reforms, then they must start applying for a licence.
We have even had a limited number of landlords calling us and telling us that they have contacted their local authority (LA) about applying for a licence only to find their LA has no idea how to do this ahead of the 1 October live-date.
The legislation doesn’t say landlords have to have a licence but landlords with HMOs do have to have applied in time. We are liaising with LAs to help them navigate the process but with 320+ LAs in England this is an uphill challenge.
We would encourage all landlords that are affected by the imminent changes to contact us if they are facing problems with their respective local authority.
In recent years it has become fairly common for councils to be behind the curve on legislative changes, or to wait until the very last moment to amend their processes. This is hardly surprising following the way that LA budgets have been cut to the bone by central government. Likewise, it is by no means uncommon for there to be a fractious relationship between government and local authorities; but that is no excuse for the lack of guidance and support frequently offered to landlords simply trying to comply with new rules.
Ultimately it is a landlord’s responsibility to make sure that they are compliant, it will not be sufficient to simply rely on councils to be ready for these important changes.
You are most likely to be affected if you have an HMO which:
- Is home to five or more people,
- Who form two or more households,
- In a property constituting fewer than three storeys
If you believe that you are responsible for properties like this, which are not currently licensed you should contact your local authority to find out how to apply for a licence.
Do you need advice? The NLA’s Telephone Advice Line is staffed by our team of experienced landlords, who have a wealth of knowledge. The Advice Line (020 7840 8939) is free for members. Or visit our online library at landlords.org.uk/library