Ealing Council launch consultation on plans to license 20,000 private rented homes
Ealing Council has launched a public consultation on proposals to implement two new property licensing schemes.
The council is proposing to implement a borough-wide additional licensing scheme that would require all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) to be licensed by the council – an estimated 15,000 properties.
By licensing all HMOs, this would include a house or flat occupied by three or more people who are not all related, who rent the property and share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.
It would also apply to so-called section 257 HMOs. These are properties that have been converted into self-contained flats, the conversion does not comply with the relevant Building Regulations and less than two thirds of the flats are owner occupied. As a result, a homeowner living in a flat within a converted building may find their home is within a licensable property.
The council is also proposing to implement a selective licensing scheme covering all private rented homes in the five wards of Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Green and Southall Broadway – an estimated 5,000 properties. According to the council, these wards have been selected because they have high numbers of privately rented homes in poor condition and there are significant problems with anti-social behaviour.
The proposed licensing fee is £500 for a selective licence and £1,100 plus £30 per habitable room for an additional licence. There would be a 25% discount for early applications, but an additional 25% finders fee would be applied to landlords who were sent two warning letters about failure to apply.
This would see the fees rise to £625 and £1,562.50 (for a 5-bed property) respectively. Accredited landlords would be eligible for a £75 discount.
Many people could be affected by the proposed changes including tenants, landlords, letting agents, neighbours, residents and businesses. The council wants to hear from as many people as possible and has launched a 12-week public consultation exercise that runs from Monday 11 January until Sunday 3 April.
Ealing is one of the largest boroughs in London with currently more than 137,000 residential properties. Of these, around 36,000 are rented from private landlords. Census figures for 2011 showed that private renting increased by nearly 70% over ten years from 2001.
Ealing Council previously had an additional licensing scheme cover certain smaller HMOs within six wards, but the scheme expired after 5 years in April 2015. According to the council, there are currently 624 licensed HMOs in the borough.
Under the new proposals, landlords of licensed properties would have to abide by new licence conditions relating to the management and condition of the property, including gas, electrical, fire safety and the facilities provided. A written tenancy agreement would be required and landlords would be required to take reasonable steps to address anti-social behaviour caused by their tenants.
The consultation prociess includes an online questionnaire available at www.ealing.gov.uk/prslicensing, public meetings and interviews with key stakeholders.
The results of the consultation will be considered before and final proposals are presented to Ealing Council’s Cabinet for approval.
Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for safety, culture and community services, said:
“All our residents deserve decent, safe homes to live in, and we are determined to raise standards in the borough’s private rented sector to help us achieve this.
“Underlying the proposals to expand the private rental licensing scheme in Ealing is the serious issue of poorly managed properties which pave the way for sub-standard living conditions and anti-social behaviour. Our proposals will give us the opportunity to drive up standards and robustly tackle unscrupulous landlords.
“We are keen to hear people’s views on this issue. No matter what your experience, you can help us to shape the future of the borough’s growing private rented sector. I urge everyone to visit our website and take part in our public consultation.“
For more information and to have your say about the licensing proposals in Ealing, please visit the council’s website at www.ealing.gov.uk/prslicensing.
Information about property licensing in Ealing is also available on this website at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/ealing.