The Housing Act 2004 allows local housing authorities, like Bath and North East Somerset Council, to specify that landlords of some or all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) must apply for a licence if they want to let to tenants. A scheme if designated can cover the whole of the Authority’s area and all types of HMOs, or can be designed for a specific area and specific HMOs. An additional licensing scheme can last for a maximum of 5 years.
Licensing gives The Council the power to require all landlords of HMOs (included in the scheme) to apply for a licence and provide details of the management arrangements and the property. This will enable officers to know where these properties are and place conditions on the licence holder to ensure minimum standards of safety, welfare and management are maintained.
Licence holders will have to be fit and proper persons and satisfactory management arrangements will have to be in place.
Landlords will have to pay a fee for each application to cover the Council’s costs of running the scheme.
Housing Services will compile a register of licensed properties with landlords contact details and maximum occupancy and property details.
Housing Services will be able to proactively inspect these properties to deal with any significant health and safety hazards and ensure they meet minimum management requirements.
A register of HMOs will be available to the public so they can find out who manages HMOs near them and are able to more quickly and easily report problems.
Where landlords are unable to meet the licensing requirements Housing Services can pursue the necessary sanctions against the landlord which could include prosecution and forcing a change of management of the property.
Operating a property covered by the designation without a licence is an offence punishable by a fine up to £20,000.
Larger HMOs, with five or more tenants and three or more floors already require a mandatory licence.