The UK’s largest ever additional licensing scheme for HMOs has come into effect over the long weekend.
Westminster council’s scheme will focus on the 9,000-plus HMOs across the whole of the central London borough; smaller house and flat shares will now require a licence if they are occupied by three or more people forming more than one household.
Westminster claims that a recent study 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 new policy will set a common standard across the borough, raising housing standards and supporting residents.
The main aims of the licensing scheme include increasing housing standards for HMOs, providing minimum standards for properties and selectively targeting interventions at properties affected by “poor tenancy management, the need for repairs, fire safety hazard, and anti-social behaviour.”
The council says the scheme will also protect tenants “from the negative social and health effects of poorly managed and maintained properties, and reducing inequality of housing.”
Westminster councillor Heather Acton 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.”