A local authority has taken the unusual step of saying that a £600 surcharge will be added to the licensing costs of any landlord who fails to apply in time or who “falls short with other housing safety issues.”
Cherwell council says landlords who are found operating unlicensed HMOs, or who are not complying with the conditions of their current licence, will be charged up to £600 more for a new licence.
Non-compliant landlords can expect to pay up to £1,050 for a new licence, whereas compliant landlords can renew a five-year licence from £450 - or £650 for first time applications.
A council spokesman says: “The new fees structure encourages landlords to do the right thing for their tenants. Those who are doing well get rewarded, but anyone who chooses not to comply will pay a higher cost for their HMO licence.”
He adds: “The decision is backed up by a thorough review of what the real costs to the taxpayer are of licensing and enforcement activity. But the big picture is that we are working really hard to ensure this important sector of our housing market is high performing and well regulated.”
The council is also to offer what it calls “advisory visits” to landlords thinking of operating an HMO - for a fee.
Administrative fees charged for improvement notices, emergency remedial action and other enforcement measures are increased from £200 to £450.