Last week John and I were very pleased to attend a conference held by National HMO Network at the London Fire Brigade Headquarters for their biannual conference. The line-up of guest speakers was great and included Nick Coombe from the Fire Safety Team at the London Fire Brigade, Andrew Boff – deputy chair of housing committee at the General London Assembly and Richard Tacagni, property licensing pro and ex-environmental health officer.

Nick did a presentation regarding the London’s fire safety plan, their achievements and key concerns. Particularly interesting was the brief look into the direction of future fire prevention technology including; automatic cooker shut off, audible reminders, GPS dementia tracking and increased use of fire proof materials in the production of home furnishings.

Andrew’s presentation addressed the demand on London’s housing sector, currently aiming to provide 49,000 houses annually in order to meet that demand. He discussed their need and desire to reach out to smaller developers in London. Regarding property licensing, the general opinion is that HMOs are a great way to provide homes for the bulging populace of the capital. Boff understood that despite HMO licensing being a noble aim, it needed properly funding so that the local authorities don’t end up with purely a list of good landlords. A sentiment shared by many landlords in London.

The presentation which I assume was the most highly anticipated was that of Richard Tacagni who talked about the expansion of the mandatory licensing scheme. Intentions to do so were first made publicly clear in October 2016 by Gavin Barwell, the then housing minister. On the 7th of February 2017, these plans were later confirmed in the housing white paper with a possible implementation date of the 1st of October 2017. Of course, with Barwell losing his seat in the constituency of Croydon, a new housing minister will need to be appointed. However, there is little evidence to suggest that these expansion plans won’t go ahead due to the government’s commitment to improve HMO and property regulations. Whether there will be a slight delay is yet to be seen.

The changes to Mandatory licensing could include the following;

-increased DBS criminal record checks of landlords/ladies

-removal of the three-storey rule

-conditions regarding refuse disposal

If your property has come under an additional licensing scheme but will later be brought under the scope of the extended mandatory scheme, it will be ‘passported’ up to a mandatory licence.

If you would like help regarding your property, give us a call today and we will see how we can help to ensure you have the right fire precautions in order to be granted a licence!