Additional HMO Licencing
Report of the Principal Environmental Health Officer.
The Principal Environmental Health Officer submitted a report which summarised the progress of the proposed additional licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
It was hoped that a consultation document would be available to present to the Members but this would be circulated shortly and attached to the minutes as an appencies.
At present HMOs consisting of 3 or more stories and occupied by at least 5 person in at least 2 households the licensing was mandatory. Section 56 of the Act allows for a Local Authority to designate all or part of its area as subject to an additional licensing scheme in relation to specified types of HMO. It was therefore proposed to designate the whole of Breckland’s district for an additional HMO scheme. It was also proposed to specify all types of HMO (except those specifically exempted by legislation) for inclusion within the scheme. This was due to the finding of many different types of properties from bungalows to disused shops being used to house tenants, often migrant workers, in all parts of the district, both rural and urban.
The contents for the additional scheme would be exactly as those for the mandatory scheme covering management, provision of amenities, fire precautions and means of escape. The charge for the licence would also be the same at £250 per HMO.
All such schemes must be submitted to the appropriate national for approval before they can be implemented and as part of the condition for submission the Council must prove that they have consulted widely on the proposal with those likely to be affected including local residents, tenants, landlords, agents and member so of the business community. In additional consultation would also take place with the fire and police authorities.
In response to Members queries the Principal Environmental Health Officer gave the following advice:-
Payment of Council Tax
The Payment of Council was sometimes the responsibility of the tenants and sometimes the landlord.
Location of HMO
A district wide survey of the location of HMOs was undertaken two years ago. Complaints may be received from neighbours regarding an HMO in the area. Council Tax and Housing Benefit would contact the team if a large number of people were claiming from one property.
Once the scheme was implemented it would be a duty of the owner of the HMO to notify the Council of the property and pay the licence.
When a HMO was located the team would arrange for an inspection and there would be a limitation imposed on the number of people residing in the property according to the facilities and means of escape etc. However, action could still be taken under current legislation if it was found that a property was overcrowded.
It was hoped that following consultation Cabinet would be presented with a report in October. If that scheme was approved it would then go forward to the Secretary of State for consideration and approval. It was envisaged that the scheme would then come into force early in 2008.
Cabinet had agreed to fund an Administrative Assistant for the first year of the scheme to assist with the influx of applications and each licence would last for a period of five years.
Inspections of the properties would be undertaken as part of the day to day work of the team.
Penalties for Non-Declaration of a HMO
If a landlord did not declare that his property was a HMO and was, therefore, not licensed they could be liable for a fine of up to £20,000.
Members wished to note the progress of the scheme and looked forward to receiving a copy of the consultation document.
RESOLVED that the progress of the proposed additional HMO Licensing Scheme be noted.