Walsall council in the Midlands is considering an Additional Licensing scheme for HMOs.
As is often the case with such schemes, the justification is that it will improve standards in those properties that have less than five people living there.
If approved, the pilot licensing scheme will cover four wards where there are higher numbers of HMOs and - in the words of the council - “where these properties are in a serious state of disrepair.”
The council says that if the scheme is successful it will be rolled out to other areas.
Adrian Andrew, deputy leader of Walsall council, says: “We refuse to accept private landlords having tenants in dreadful conditions and this is another tool that we are using to tackle the issue, but not at the expense of the many great private landlords that we have in Walsall.
“We want to improve housing standards and make sure that landlords and private letting agents provide good properties and maintain them well. Whilst we know that many already do this, there are still too many examples of properties of this type in the borough that are poorly managed - are unsafe and in shocking conditions. A new approach is needed and this additional licensing scheme is a step forward.”
The proposal will provide both an ‘early bird’ discount and reduced fees for those landlords who are accredited. The average licence will cost around £675 for a five-year period.
If the scheme is approved, it means that private landlords and agents who let any property in the wards that is occupied by at least three people who do not make up a single household, share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet - will need to apply for a licence.
Before any such scheme can begin, the council will consult for a minimum of 10 weeks with the residents of these areas plus private landlords, businesses and other stakeholders.
The council already licences more than 130 large HMOs under the mandatory scheme for HMOs.