One of the largest new additional licensing schemes for HMOs anywhere in the country is set to come into force in under two weeks’ time.
It will focus on the 9000-plus properties in the City of Westminster where private renters live in multi-occupant homes including house and flat shares, bedsits, and some buildings converted into flats.
Smaller house and flat shares will now require a licence if they are occupied by three or more people forming more than one household.
The scheme, which is part of the council’s wider private rented sector strategy, will be introduced at the end of this month and will cover the whole of Westminster.
Its main aim is to enforce higher standards and to protect private renters in HMOs and it will apply to both new and existing tenancies, including people sharing under one tenancy.
The council claims that a study some years ago found that poor housing standards are far more likely to be found in the HMO sector, with the council having to make 25,341 interventions between 2016 and 2018.
The main aims of the new licensing scheme include:
- increasing housing standards for HMOs, providing clear minimum standards for properties and selectively targeting council interventions at the worst properties affected by poor tenancy management, the need for repairs, fire safety hazard, and anti-social behaviour;
- protecting private rented tenants from the negative social and health effects of poorly managed and maintained properties, and reducing inequality of housing;
- creating sustainable private rented sector tenancies that are attractive to good tenants; and, in the words of the council,
- “Making Westminster a safer and more desirable place to live by reducing instances of poor tenancy management.”
Councillor Heather Acton, responsible for housing, says: “We want to ensure our residents and communities are living in the highest standards possible in Westminster. The Additional Licensing Scheme gives us a greater ability to monitor and regulate this specific part of the housing sector.
“The scheme puts the safety of our residents first, protecting private rented tenants living in shared properties from poorly managed and badly maintained housing. This helps Westminster have good accommodation so that it is a diverse and desirable place where people want to live. It will help the sector create sustainable tenancies with empowered tenants and reputable landlords.”