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Local Government’s consultation on ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation

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Wed 14 Dec 2016

Local Government’s consultation on ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation

Association of Residential Letting Agents has responded to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s consultation on ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation and residential property licensing reforms’.

The consultation asked for views on the Government’s plans to extend the scope of mandatory licensing of HMOs in England. The proposals include removing the storey rule, extending mandatory licensing to flats above and below business premises, and set a minimum room size of 6.52 sq-m. There were also questions about rubbish disposal facilities, the fit and proper person test and purpose built student accommodation.

In ARLA’s response we repeated our view that we don’t agree with licensing because it doesn’t work. Councils already have a wide variety of powers to prosecute for poor property conditions and bad management practices.

Failure to tackle and inspect landlords without a licence is a major concern of our members and only serves to enforce our current view that licensing in not an effective solution to the correctly identified problem. 

ARLA also reiterated the need to consider the unintended consequences of minimum room sizes. We know that some people are happy to take small rooms to keep their costs down. If these rooms are no longer available, the supply of property to these people will be vastly reduced. 

The Government has also considered the impact its policy would have on families. We are concerned that parents living in bedsits or letting rooms (or possibly in a room in a shared house) with a baby or young child whose occupation of a room would become a licensing offence under these proposals. We believe this will have an impact in areas where residential property is in high demand and force low income families to find individual flats which they may not be able to afford.      

The Government intends to implement changes through Secondary Legislation, with the changes likely to come into force in 2017. Secondary Legislation allows the Government to make changes to the law using powers from an existing Act of Parliament. 

Read ARLA’s representation to the Department for Communities and Local Government in full here

When the consultation opened in October 2016, David Cox’s initial comments on the proposals were featured in Property Industry Eye and subsequently Landlord Today.