Lambeth Council HMO Properties new Licensing scheme

Lambeth Council HMO Properties new Licensing scheme

 

The London Borough of Lambeth will introduce a new HMO licensing scheme on December 9th after it finished its consultation for additional licensing of HMO properties.

The proposals gained the support of two-thirds of residents while 81% of landlords and agents were against them.

 

Why is the scheme being introduced?

The council’s reasons for the introduction of this latest HMO licensing scheme in the borough are to improve accommodation standards for tenants, routing out rogue landlords and illegal HMOs. 

Lambeth Council estimates that there are 5,000 HMO properties in the borough; this includes house and flat shares, bedsits (section 254 HMOs), and some buildings converted into flats (section 257 HMOs). Smaller houses and flatshares occupied by three more people that form more than one household will now require a licence.

The new scheme is particularly aimed at those landlords who rent out smaller HMOs who fail to ensure the correct property compliance and acceptable conditions for their tenants. Any landlords who do not comply with the Lambeth HMO licensing, will be faced with fines. The costs of HMO licensing a HMO property can vary from borough to borough.

 

How much is the HMO Licensing cost in Lambeth?

The new Lambeth HMO licensing scheme will see costs increase to £506 per bedroom or £2,024 for a four-bedroom HMO. Currently, Lambeth council charges an application fee of £289 per bedroom so property businesses will see a big increase in the cost of 75% per licence, and lead to the highest per bedroom fee in London.

 

Can I get fined?

Any person managing a property or persons in control, under the Housing Act 2004, could get up to £30,000 fine per offence. Tenants can claim back up to 12 months rent, under Rent Repayment Order, from landlords breaking rules so ensure you run a tight ship and get your paperwork in order ASAP.

If taking advice, ensure you use someone accredited to do so such as Environmental Health Officers, accredited by CIEH, with experience in local councils.

 

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

 

What is a HMO?

To determine what is an HMO we need to start with what ‘HMO’ stands for ie. House in Multiple Occupancy or House of Multiple Occupation. The standard definition of a section 254 HMO is: 3 or more tenants, more than 1 household and shared facilities.

For Section 257 HMOs, the standard definition of a section 257 HMO refers to buildings that: 

have been converted into self-contained flats; 

the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply; 

and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

 

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

 

What is Property Licensing?

Property licensing is the Local Authority’s process of improving living standards in rental accommodation and proving that landlords are ‘fit and proper’ persons to operate these properties. The type of licence a property requires varies depending on a number of different factors, including the number of tenants and the council your property is located in.

 

Why is Property Licensing important?

It is important that you are aware of both the national and local authority regulations. The licensing rules are not consistent across every London borough, with each individual borough creating its own set of licensing rules. A professional licensing company should be instructed to guide you through the process. In short, the type of licence required will depend on the property itself, how it is tenanted and the borough that it is located in.

For more information about property licensing, download our guide or contact HMO Services on 020 3848 2200 / admin@hmoserviceslondon.com.

 

Work in the property business?

Do you work as a letting agent, mortgage consultants, investors or property/building manager? Then take a look at our sister company Yuno, who is ready to help you with any changes you must make.

Two new landlord licensing schemes in the London Borough of Islington

Two new licensing schemes now in operation in the London Borough of Islington

Islington Council launched two new landlord licensing schemes earlier this year with implications for HMO (houses in multiple occupation) properties. The North London council has introduced these schemes with the aim of making private renting more fair, improving living conditions, and to protect renters’ rights. Minimum standards for property management will be set by the council to cover the provision of kitchen and bathroom facilities, room sizes, health and safety (e.g. fire, gas, and electrical safety checks).

The Borough of Islington first announced these landlord licensing schemes just before the start of the pandemic in February last year, the first scheme operates borough-wide and covers HMOs. In research, they discovered that HMOs had some of the lowest housing standards in the London borough with many HMO conversions having little or non-existent fire safety measures. A HMO licensing pilot scheme carried out in Caledonian Road and Holloway Road areas of Islington was found to have improved standards and led to better HMO management.

The second is a selective licensing scheme for the Finsbury Park ward, which has some of the worst housing conditions for privately rented properties in the North London borough. Due to the high risk of tenants being exploited and taken advantage of by rogue landlords, Islington Council acted and are requiring landlords to obtain a license when they rent out a flat or house occupied by either a single household or two people sharing.

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, commented:  “These new landlord licensing schemes will help protect private renters and also ensure that conscientious landlords are rewarded. There are a great many responsible landlords in the borough and schemes like this help to level the playing field.

As both schemes are active, Islington Council are reminding landlords to apply for a licence if they have not done so already. 

What is a HMO?

To determine what is an HMO we need to start with what ‘HMO’ stands for ie. House in Multiple Occupancy or House of Multiple Occupation. The standard definition of a section 254 HMO is: 3 or more tenants, more than 1 household and shared facilities.

For Section 257 HMOs, the standard definition of a section 257 HMO refers to buildings that: 

have been converted into self-contained flats; 

the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply; 

and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

What is Property Licensing?

Property licensing is the Local Authority’s process of improving living standards in rental accommodation and proving that landlords are ‘fit and proper’ persons to operate these properties. The type of licence a property requires varies depending on a number of different factors, including the number of tenants and the council your property is located in.

Why is Property Licensing important?

It is important that you are aware of both the national and local authority regulations. The licensing rules are not consistent across every London borough, with each individual borough creating its own set of licensing rules. A professional licensing company should be instructed to guide you through the process. In short, the type of licence required will depend on the property itself, how it is tenanted and the borough that it is located in.

For more information about property licensing, download our guide.

Work in the property business?

Do you work as a letting agent, mortgage consultants, investors or property/building manager? Then take a look at our sister company Yuno, who is ready to help you with any changes you must make.

For more information please contact HMO Services on 020 3848 2200 or email admin@hmoserviceslondon.com.

Lambeth Council HMO Properties Consultation

The London Borough of Lambeth has recently finished its consultation on proposals for additional licensing of HMO Properties.

The consultation with letting agents, landlords, property managers, freeholders, leaseholders, and others ended on 12th March contained proposals which sought to license all HMOs in Lambeth thus doubling the size of its current scheme.

Why is the scheme being introduced?

The council’s reasons for the introduction of this latest HMO licensing scheme in the borough is to improve accommodation standards for tenants, routing out rogue landlords and illegal HMO Properties.

The new scheme is particularly aimed at those landlords who rent out smaller HMOs who fail to ensure the correct property compliance, and acceptable conditions for their tenants. Any landlords who do not comply with the licensing, will be faced with fines. The costs of licensing HMO Properties can vary from borough to borough.

Now the consultation has closed, Lambeth Council will go through the responses and report back to the council’s cabinet with their findings and recommendations.

If the council decides to press ahead with the new licensing scheme, then it is likely to be put in place in April 2022.

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

What is a HMO?

To determine what is an HMO we need to start with what ‘HMO’ stands for ie. House in Multiple Occupancy or House of Multiple Occupation. The standard definition of a section 254 HMO is: 3 or more tenants, more than 1 household and shared facilities.

For Section 257 HMOs, the standard definition of a section 257 HMO refers to buildings that: have been converted into self-contained flats; the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply; and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

What is Property Licensing?

Property licensing is the Local Authority’s process of improving living standards in rental accommodation and proving that landlords are ‘fit and proper’ persons to operate these properties. The type of licence a property requires varies depending on a number of different factors, including the number of tenants and the council your property is located in.

Why is Property Licensing important?

It is important that you are aware of both the national and local authority regulations. The licensing rules are not consistent across every London borough, with each individual borough creating its own set of licensing rules. A professional licensing company should be instructed to guide you through the process. In short, the type of licence required will depend on the property itself, how it is tenanted and the borough that it is located in.

For more information about property licensing, download our guide.

Work in the property business?

Do you work as a letting agent, mortgage consultants, investors or property/building manager? Then take a look at our sister company Yuno, who is ready to help you with any changes you must make.

For more information please contact HMO Services on 020 3848 2200 or email admin@hmoserviceslondon.com.

New HMO Licensing for City of Westminster due in August

In the London Borough of the City of Westminster, new additional HMO licensing will come into operation on 30th August 2021.

The scheme has been introduced as part of a wider strategy for the private rental sector, as the council seeks to improve their ability to properly license all HMO properties in the borough. Currently, the council is restricted by national laws to only be able to license 300 of the 9000 and more HMOs in Westminster.

Why is new HMO licensing needed?

With the consultation which closed in February 2021, the council will be able to greatly increase living standards for tenants and provide landlords with a common benchmark for HMO property licensing and compliance, and eradicate poor tenancy management and practice.

Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Public Protection & Licensing, said: “The safety and livelihood of our residents and communities is always at the peak of priorities for the council, and now more than ever, ensuring that Westminster has a high-quality provision of housing in the private rented sector is imperative.

“With this additional licensing scheme for homes of multiple occupancies, we will be able to significantly increase our reach over this specific part of the sector, driving up standards across the board and ensuring that private tenants in the area are living in shared properties that are well managed and maintained and, most importantly, and safe and secure.”

The largest private rented sector in England is in the City of Westminster borough with an estimated 52,700 properties and 43% of the total housing stock, many of these properties marked as HMOs.

How can I check my property compliance?

The HMO Services Compliance checker will help you stay one step ahead of any changes like this and help with your property compliance, so you know how any licensing changes by your local council could affect you. Just enter your postcode 👍 to find out more.

What is a HMO?

To determine what is an HMO we need to start with what ‘HMO’ stands for ie. House in Multiple Occupancy or House of Multiple Occupation. The standard definition of a section 254 HMO is: 3 or more tenants, more than 1 household and shared facilities.

For Section 257 HMOs, the standard definition of a section 257 HMO refers to buildings that: have been converted into self-contained flats; the conversion did not comply with the relevant Building Regulations in force at that time and still does not comply; and less than two-thirds of the flats are owner-occupied.

What is Property Licensing?

Property licensing is the Local Authority’s process of improving living standards in rental accommodation and proving that landlords are ‘fit and proper’ persons to operate these properties. The type of licence a property requires varies depending on a number of different factors, including the number of tenants and the council your property is located in.

Why is Property Licensing important?

It is important that you are aware of both the national and local authority regulations. The licensing rules are not consistent across every London borough, with each individual borough creating its own set of licensing rules. A professional licensing company should be instructed to guide you through the process. In short, the type of licence required will depend on the property itself, how it is tenanted and the borough that it is located in.

For more information about property licensing, download our guide.

Work in the property business?

Do you work as a letting agent, mortgage consultants, investors or property/building manager? Then take a look at our sister company Yuno, who is ready to help you with any changes you must make.

For more information please contact HMO Services on 020 3848 2200 or email admin@hmoserviceslondon.com.

Why do we need HMO licensing?

HMO licensing is causing quite a stir, but why is it so important?

HMO licensing has affected so many landlords up and down the country. Updates to the legislation mean that a further 170,000 are to be affected by licensing laws by the end of the year. I assume many of you may be asking, or have asked at one point, why do we need HMO regulation?

To put it simply, the need for HMO licensing is directly linked to the increase in the private rented sector. In 2014, the Smith Institute revealed that the private rental market now extends to include 20% of the entire housing market. So with more people involved in private property rentals, the market becomes harder to regulate and standards difficult to uphold.

The growth of the private housing can be reduced to three main causes. Most significantly, and certainly well talked about currently, is the decline of home ownership. There is a reason millennials have been graced with the title ‘generation rent’. Nowhere is that truer than in our fantastic capital. In London, home ownership is down to just 50%. Overall, for those aged 25-30 home ownership has dropped by nearly a quarter. Secondly, the continued growth of the buy to let market, which has seen greater numbers of ‘retirement fund landlords’ introduced to the market. Finally, the provision of social housing has been slowing down to an almost complete halt since the 1980s.

For enterprising individuals, the growth of the private rented sector is no bad thing, as greater demand equals greater supply – along with fantastic business opportunities. The problem arises when the growth of the market stretches to include landlords who do not follow good standards and practices – giving the rest a bad name! The table, at the top of this article, is taken from a paper published by the Department for Towns and Local Governments. It shows, quite clearly, that the number of non-decent homes is significantly greater in the private rented sector. Though it must be noted – the recent housing white paper claims that this percentage has actually fallen to 28%.

These bad landlords have received a lot of press over recent years, the BBC series Housing Enforcers and CH4’s Landlords from Hell series are just the tip of the ice-burg. A lot of this bad press has been deserved, I worked with tenants who were living in conditions you wouldn’t keep a small pig in. A report by Shelter, published in 2016, determined that London has the worst private landlords of the nation. With one out of five renters in London claiming to have been victimised by landlords failing to meet industry standards.

However, I have also had wonderful landlords, the kind that come round every Monday to test the fire alarms and have a quick chat or tell you you’re getting a new boiler before you’ve even noticed a problem with the old one.

The bad landlords need to be deterred from the market full stop and that is what recent movements have been focused on doing. Government legislation has sought to tighten up rules in the market, from the use of third party agencies for deposits to the recent changes to HMO licensing. The message is clear, the private rented sector is going to be more scrutinized than ever before and hence more regulated than ever before.

 

Landlord Database will be introduced this year

Plans for Landlord Database for HMOs fully underway

The landlord database will store the information of landlords who have failed to comply to HMO regulations.

Lord Bourne, the undersecretary of state for communities and local governments, revealed that an official database of bad landlords and lettings agents will be launched in October 1st 2017.

Despite the launch of the landlord database in October, there will be some leniency for the first six months. This will allow time for landlords to get better informed about their councils HMO licensing and take action to properly upgrade their properties.

Lord Bourne broached the topic during a meeting in the Lords Chamber on the 8th of January.

We now know that the landlord database will contain the information of those;

  • found guilty of running a HMO without the necessary licensing
  • not complicit in ensuring the maximum safety standards required
  • continuing to charge agency fees

The above criteria is all that has been confirmed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. They have stated that they will begin a dedicated consultation period over the coming weeks. During this time the department will properly outline and define which offences will render the landlord or letting agent liable to be listed in the database. The offences are aimed at those who have or manage HMO properties within the private rented sector.

Though initially, the landlord database was to tackle just non-compliant HMOs. However, it seems that by tying in lettings agents who continue to charge fees the government is intent on taking on the entire industry with this database. From agents to one property landlords, the private rental sector is getting some serious governemnt attention.

What will the database mean? 

Exactly how the database will affect the landlord or letting agent in unknown. Suggestions however, are that those placed on the database could incur a suspension of up to a year.

HMO services London is following developments closely and will report new findings as and when they arrive.

To find out first, please subscribe to our mailing list…

 

 

 

On the Street: The Rogue Landlord

On the Street: Landlord Prosecuted for failing to display contact details.

There have been numerous reports over the years of ‘rogue’ landlords. These are landlords have caused serious damage to the representation of those working hard in the private rental sector. Landlords, who, have typically been prosecuted for failure to comply to HMO regulations.

The first story like this that caught our attention was back in 2015. The reason this case resonated is that we could understand the landlord had made a mistake in not being diligent with the HMO requirements.

I understand the council’s point of view. HMO regulations and licensing exists because there is a genuine need for them. Overcrowding and faulty fire alarms or carbon monoxide detectors can cause cause serious accidents.

In December 2015, Oxford City Council prosecuted a landlord for failing to have his contact details displayed in the main entrance to the house. He had also failed to properly maintain fire escape routes. The landlord was fined £15,000 for his errors a figure payable directly to the council as a fine and to cover court fees. In addition, Mr Coyle, was ordered to refund a further £2987 to the tenants – the entire rent paid during their stay in the house. This can cause some considerable financial loss for landlords who only have the one property.

Part of the landlord’s defense was that issues had primarily arisen out of the confusing variations in HMO regulations across towns and councils, and this is where we sympathise with him. Mr Coyle told the court that in Cheltenham, where Coyle lives, the law requires landlords to have a license in homes where more than five non-related people live, but in Oxford it is four. Nevertheless, Mr Coyle’s defence didn’t stand and he was susequently ordered to pay the court fees, recompense the tenants and pay the council. I would suggest readers to have a look at their own council’s HMO regulations regarding displaying emergency contact information.

Morale of the story?

Ignorance does not mitigate responsibility! However, HMO regulations can be tricky to navigate and confusing national variations certainly don’t help!

 

Changes to HMO Legislation are coming, make sure you are informed!

Existing HMO rules to change this year

HMO licensing currently encompasses 60,000 homes in England. The proposed changes to legislation will mean that a further 170,000 shared homes will be required to obtain a license. This license can only be obtained once the property owner has fulfilled all the requirements of their Local Authority.

The following blog will deal with the most impacting changes expected to come in this year. The Department for Communities and Local Government has now entered a consultation period to properly define the extent of the changes to the mandatory HMO licensing, however there are a few points which have been marked out as unavoidable.

1) The licensing will expand to include all HMOs with 5 or more sharers making up two households. 

An earlier Government consultation, in October of 2015, sent out an advisory questionnaire to organisations and individuals across the housing sector. Of the 449 respondents, 78% agreed that HMO licensing should extend to include larger houses regardless of the numbers of storeys. 48% went on to agree that houses with 5 sharers from 2 or more households should be HMO licenseable.

2) Flats above shops and businesses will also be HMO licenseable.

79% of those asked in the 2015 survey, believed that flats above businesses should be HMO licensed. Changes to this particular area are being considered because risk of fire is increased in these types of residences.

3) Landlords and Letting Agents will be expected to carry out criminal record and referencing checks more diligently – HMO or not.

This coincides with current government movements surrounding stricter enforcement of immigration rules. Since December 2016, new criminal offences have been created to penalize landlords who fail to undertake Right to Rent checks against their tenants.

4) Landlords and Letting Agents who do not obtain HMO license

The exact impact of being placed on the database has not been fully determined and I imagine we will know soon after the ongoing consultation period. It has been rumored that the database could mean landlords might incur a suspension of up to a year, though nothing has been confirmed.

5) Penalties of up to £30,000 are expected to be incurred for those who do not license their rental homes

The increase in the maximum penalty to £30,000 has come because it was believed the original maximum penalty of £20,000 did not work to deter landlords for not complying with HMO standards. In fact, it was understood that landlords simply incorporated the fines as typical business costs.

Act Now!

These changes will be implemented throughout the year with a grace period of six months before a penalty is incurred

In the meantime, check out the services offered by HMO Services London and arrange a initial consultation.

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