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Westminster City Council consult on plans to license all Houses in Multiple Occupation

Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council additional licensing consultation 2020

Westminster City Council have launched a public consultation on plans to implement an additional licensing scheme for all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the borough.

The proposed scheme would extend licensing to an estimated 9,000 HMOs. This would include house and flat shares, bedsits, and certain buildings converted into flats. 

The consultation forms part of the council’s new private rented sector strategy that was subject to consultation earlier in the year (read here).

As present, HMO licensing in Westminster is restricted to HMOs occupied by five or more people. According to the council’s pubic register, there are currently 293 licensed HMOs.

The proposed new scheme will increase this number significantly and drastically improve the council’s ability to enforce essential housing standards and protect residents.

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 seek to set a common standard for landlords across the borough, hauling up standards and supporting residents. 

According to the council, the aims of the proposed scheme include:

  • Driving up housing standards for HMOs across the city, establishing a common standard and drastically increasing interventions in priorities 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.
  • Making Westminster a safer and more desirable place to live by reducing the instances of poor tenancy management. 

Cllr Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Public Protection & Licensing at Westminster City Council said:

The safety and livelihood of our residents and communities is always at the peak of priorities for the council, and now more than ever, ensuring that Westminster has a high-quality provision of housing in the private rented sector is imperative.

With this additional licensing scheme for homes of multiple occupancies, we will be able to significantly increase our reach over this specific part of the sector, driving up standards across the board and ensuring that private tenants in the area are living in shared properties that are well managed and maintained and, most importantly, and safe and secure.” 

The City of Westminster is home to the largest private rented sector in England with an estimated 52,700 properties and 43% of the total housing stock. With a large proportion of these properties marked as HMOs, the council has developed a proposed licensing scheme to ensure that Westminster has a safe, well-managed, and professional-run private rented sector.

The consultation started on 19 November 2019 and continues until 11 February 2021. More details can be found on the council’s website (choose option 8).

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in the City of Westminster is available here.

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