New additional landlord licensing scheme launched in Barnet
As part of a drive to improve standards in the private rented sector and clamp down on rogue landlords, Barnet Council launched a new additional landlord licensing scheme on 5 July 2016.
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) include houses or flats which are occupied by more than one family with some tenants sharing, or lacking a facility such as a toilet, kitchen or a bathroom. Certain properties converted to self‚Äëcontained flats can also be classified as HMOs if they don’t comply with the relevant Building Regulations and meet certain other conditions – so called ‘Section 257 HMOs’.
According to the council, the new licensing scheme will help to protect the health and safety of the tenants and reduce the impact that HMOs can have on local neighbourhoods. They will also ensure that only suitable landlords have control of HMOs and that these properties are managed properly.
Councillor Richard Cornelius, Leader of Barnet Council said:
“Barnet now has the highest population of all the London boroughs, with further growth expected over the coming years. There is no doubt that well managed HMOs have an important role to play in helping meet our housing needs.
“From research we know though that people living in HMOs can be vulnerable and at increased risk of being exploited by landlords. Our recent survey of people living in HMOs was a cause for concern.
“For these reasons we are taking action to help drive-up standards of HMOs across the private rented sector to encourage good landlords and crack down on rogue landlords who expose their tenants to unnecessary health and safety risks though sub-standard accommodation.“
The changes will extend the current licensing scheme to most HMOs that are two or more storeys high and occupied by four or more people who are not all related and share facilities. Larger properties converted into self-contained flats may also require a licence. Landlords are encouraged to check if the new changes affect them and to apply for a licence where necessary.
In May 2016, the Council also implemented changes to planning permission which meant any conversions to an HMO anywhere in Barnet now require planning approval.
These latest changes follow a string of enforcement action taken by Barnet Council in relation to poorly managed HMOs, which has resulted in several successful prosecutions with fines of in excess of £200,000. The cases have included a landlady who was fined for failing to have a licence for a HMO that was poorly managed (read here) and another case where a landlords of a Golders Green property were fined a total of £145,000 for leaving tenants at risk of dying in a fire (read here).
Most recently a rogue letting agent was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for stealing thousands of pounds worth of deposits from tenants and landlords following a successful case brought about by the Council’s trading standards team (read here).
More information about property licensing and HMO planning restrictions in Barnet can be found at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/barnet or by visiting the Council’s website. London Property Licensing can also assist landlords and letting agents with submitting licence applications in the London area and advising on all the rules and regulations. Contact us to request more information.