Agenda item - Proposed Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation

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Agenda item

Proposed Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation

Report of Executive Director for Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing (copy attached).

Decision:

That the Housing & New Homes Committee:

 

(1)            Notes the results of the consultation undertaken in relation to the proposed Additional Licensing Scheme as summarised in this report and detailed in the appendices 1 and 2.

 

(2)            Designates the 21 wards in the city as subject to additional licensing under S56(1) of the Housing Act 2004 in relation to smaller HMOs of two or more storeys occupied by three or more people, other than those that are HMOs by virtue of Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.  Such designation to take effect from 1 March 2018 and last for five years, and revokes the existing City Centre designation with effect from 1 March 2018. 

 

(3)            Agrees the fee structure for the HMO licensing schemes as set out in paragraph 3.30. This will apply to the existing Mandatory HMO and City Centre additional  licensing schemes from 1 January 2018 and if approved the new scheme from 1 March 2018. 

 

(4)            Agrees the HMO licensing scheme conditions and standards attached at Appendix 3. This will apply to the existing Mandatory HMO and City Centre Additional licensing schemes from 1 January 2018 and if approved the new scheme from 1 March 2018. 

 

(5)      Authorises the Executive Director Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing to take such steps as are required following the designation and revocation referred to in 2.2 above.

 

(6)      That officers will explore appropriate concessions on licence fees for participating landlords, should such a good landlord scheme be launched in the city.

 

Minutes:

49.1   The Committee considered a report of the Executive Director, Neighbourhoods, Communities & Housing which outlined the proposal for an Additional Licensing Scheme for smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) within Brighton & Hove following public consultation. If the Additional Licensing Scheme was approved, it was proposed that the designation would come into force, following statutory notification requirements, on 1 March 2018 for a period of five years. The report also set out the proposed fee structure and conditions for approval to apply across all HMO licensing schemes. The report was presented by the Head of Housing Strategy, Property & Investment and the Housing Strategy & Enabling Manager. 

49.2   Councillor Mears raised some concerns. She stressed that the city had serious housing needs and the proposed additional licensing scheme could lead to landlords passing on costs to their tenants. The worst case scenario was that landlords would sell and that this would result in fewer properties to rent. Councillor Mears asked whether the Temporary Accommodation team had a projected an increase in their budget as a result of extra licensing. Councillor Mears stressed the need to be mindful that the council already had powers to deal with rogue landlords and should be seen to be imposing a money making scheme.

 49.3  Councillor Atkinson noted that the result of the consultation was 87% in favour of the overall proposal and 82% in favour of the fee structure.  The council already had 1,187 large HMOs that were licensed and 2264 smaller HMOs covered by the two additional  licensing schemes. With the Lewes Road scheme, 1998 licences were applied for and 1981 were granted.  When the scheme was first introduced there were no large scale withdrawals from the rented sector and a large number of people applied for licenses. The council had listened and changes have been made to the proposals. The proposed fee was lower than many other councils and it had followed a detailed analysis of all the options. The standards expected of landlords were those which in legislation and best practice should already be in place and which tenants should be expecting.

49.4   Councillor Gibson had submitted the following amendment which was seconded by Councillor Druitt as follows:

          “To add the recommendations as below, as shown in bold italics

          2.6 That officers will explore appropriate concessions on licence fees for participating landlords, should such a good landlord scheme be launched in the city.”

49.5   Councillor Gibson welcomed the report and proposals, and stressed that there was sound evidence from the existing schemes that standards in accommodation had improved significantly. Councillor Gibson had been told that in the five years of HMO licensing approximately 2185 properties had had fire safety improvements and 1598 management repairs. 1140 properties had received loft insulation & 1228 ventilation. Councillor Gibson praised what had been achieved in the previous scheme and considered that there were good reasons to extend it.  There was scope to cover a number of concessionary situations. The good landlord scheme was potentially a very positive scheme that would offer lower rents for tenants.

49.6   Councillor Hill stated that the experience of HMO licensing so far was that the fees were reasonable and that rents had increased considerably more than licensing fees. The council did need to look at look at standards and conditions and address those concerns. It had been demonstrated that the HMO licensing schemes had improved standards for thousands of people living in the city. It had not resulted in a drop in supply and HMOs continued to increase. Councillor Hill stressed that although there were existing powers, the council lacked resources to be pro-active in terms of how they were used. Existing powers relied on the tenant being pro-active and making a complaint about their property. The advantage of HMO licensing was that it placed the responsibility in the hands of landlords and the council who between them should ensure that the tenant was living in a suitable property.  Councillor Hill thought the amendment was covered in the report and the council could offer a discount based on the expected savings made from a landlord being a member of an accredited scheme. She thanked officers for producing a solid piece of work.

49.7   The Committee voted on the Green amendment as set out in paragraph 49.5 above. The amendment was agreed unanimously. The Committee then voted on the substantive recommendations. Recommendations 2.1 to 2.5 were unanimously agreed as set out in the report along with the Green amendment 2.6. 

49.8   RESOLVED:-

That the Housing & New Homes Committee:

 

(1)            Notes the results of the consultation undertaken in relation to the proposed Additional Licensing Scheme as summarised in this report and detailed in the appendices 1 and 2.

 

(2)            Designates the 21 wards in the city as subject to additional licensing under S56(1) of the Housing Act 2004 in relation to smaller HMOs of two or more storeys occupied by three or more people, other than those that are HMOs by virtue of Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004.  Such designation to take effect from 1 March 2018 and last for five years, and revokes the existing City Centre designation with effect from 1 March 2018. 

 

(3)            Agrees the fee structure for the HMO licensing schemes as set out in paragraph 3.30. This will apply to the existing Mandatory HMO and City Centre additional  licensing schemes from 1 January 2018 and if approved the new scheme from 1 March 2018. 

 

(4)            Agrees the HMO licensing scheme conditions and standards attached at Appendix 3. This will apply to the existing Mandatory HMO and City Centre Additional licensing schemes from 1 January 2018 and if approved the new scheme from 1 March 2018. 

 

(5)      Authorises the Executive Director Neighbourhoods, Communities and Housing to take such steps as are required following the designation and revocation referred to in 2.2 above.

 

(6)      That officers will explore appropriate concessions on licence fees for participating landlords, should such a good landlord scheme be launched in the city.

 

Supporting documents:

 


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