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Houses/flats in Multiple Occupation licensing scheme consultation

The council is consulting on introducing an ‘additional’ licensing scheme for multi-occupied premises under the provisions within the Housing Act 2004. This additional licensing scheme will cover the whole borough excluding the current Selective licensing designation (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre-2014 wards).

The areas where the scheme is under consideration are in the following wards:

  • Island Gardens
  • Canary Wharf
  • Blackwall and Cubitt Town
  • Poplar
  • Lansbury
  • Limehouse
  • Mile End
  • Bromley South
  • Bromley North
  • St. Dunstan’s
  • Stepney Green
  • Shadwell
  • St. Katherine and Wapping
  • St. Peters
  • Bethnal Green
  • Bow West
  • Bow East
  • Shadwell

Noting the boundary changes that occurred to Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers and Whitechapel wards in 2014 and are currently covered by a selective licensing scheme designation.

Before introducing an additional licensing scheme for HMO landlords, the council must undertake a consultation of all relevant stakeholders to ensure that all views are considered and if a scheme is implemented it is done in the most effective way.

Consideration of additional licensing

The Housing Act 2004 gives powers to local authorities to require other HMOs outside of the mandatory scheme to be licensed in specific circumstances.

The proposed additional licensing scheme for Tower Hamlets will include all properties with three or more tenants from two different households irrespective of the property type i.e. it is to include all flats and houses.

Find out what we call a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

In order for an additional licensing designation to be made, we must show that a large number of HMOs in the borough are considered to be managed ineffectively as to give rise, or likely to give rise to one or more particular problems for those occupying HMOs or for members of the public within the local area.

The council has commissioned research to establish if HMO’s are properly managed and adverse impacts on the surrounding area. The evidence is outlined in the report.

Examples of properties being managed ineffectively and therefore having a detrimental effect on an area are:

  • where the external condition and curtilage adversely impacts on the general character and amenity of the area
  • where the HMO has not been set up to meet the needs of the number of people living there, for example, because it lacks adequate fire precautions; insufficient kitchen, bathroom or toilet amenities; bedrooms are undersized, etc
  • where the internal condition, such as poorly maintained amenities, leaks, damp and dirty conditions, pest infestations or overcrowding adversely impact on the health safety and welfare of the tenants and the landlords are failing to take the appropriate remedial action
  • where there are significant and persistent problems of anti-social behaviour affecting other residents and/or the local community and the landlords are not taking steps to address the issues
  • the lack of management or poor management skills or practices is otherwise adversely impacting on the health, safety and welfare of the tenants and/or the wider community.

How would it work?

All landlords or lettings agents of HMOs that are within the proposed licensed area and which either:

  • do not require a mandatory licence or
  • are properties that are within the current Selective licensing area (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre 2014 wards)

would need to apply for a licence for each property they let that fits the criteria, i.e. all properties with three or more tenants from two different households irrespective of the property type.

The licence would come with certain conditions that would require the landlord or letting agent to meet certain standards before they can legally rent out the property. In order to become a licence holder, the landlord or letting agent must also past a fit and proper person test.

We are consulting on the fit and proper person protocol more of which can be found in the consultation document section.

The benefits of a proposed borough additional licensing scheme

It is proposed that the introduction of such a licensing scheme for HMO’s would be the best way to regulate such premises by: 

  • targeting resources at the properties and management arrangements of most concern.
  • promote engagement with landlords, tenants and agents with an involvement with HMOs.
  • assist with raising standards in the private rented market in relation to health, safety and welfare of the occupants – thus reducing the need for expensive intervention strategies.
  • helping to improve standards of fire safety which are a particular problem in HMOs, benefitting HMO occupiers and people who live in neighbouring properties
  • enable licensed HMOs database to be published on our website
  • assist with the identification of the worst properties to enable the Services to work with landlords and managing agents to bring them up to standard
  • enable local residents, occupiers or potential occupiers to inform the council of any HMO’s which they think need a licence but do not have one
  • prevent overcrowding by setting limits as to the number of permitted occupiers.
  • assist with reducing any associated detrimental impacts upon local neighbourhoods and reducing the number of complaints
  • ensure that criminal landlords are targeted and dealt with appropriately and to make certain that only those proven to be fit and proper persons can have control over an HMO
  • promote engagement between enforcers (such as Environmental Health and Trading Standards Depts.) with the various tenants’ advice services to tackle poor practice and exploitation of tenants by local landlords
  • helping to prevent exploitation of tenants by ensuring that they are issued with lawful tenancies and are aware of their rights, keeping people secure in their homes and preventing illegal evictions
  • making sure that HMOs can take their proper place among other dwelling types in the housing market, and that they are not a choice of last resort.

If an additional licensing scheme is introduced, focus should be on enabling and supporting landlords who are, or wish to be compliant, whilst targeting those landlords who do not wish to comply with the legislation for enforcement action.

The aim of the licensing scheme is to improve the management of these properties to ensure that they have a positive impact on the area.

What we are consulting on

We would like your views on the following. Further details can be found in the consultation documents section.

1. Fees

It is proposed that the licences would run for a maximum of 5 years and we are consulting on the proposed fee structure. Visit the consultation documents section for more.

Proposed additional licensing fee structure

The fees will be payable in full on application by the landlord/agent for the licence.

The fee £520, will also include licence holders that are of concern with a history of previous non-compliance or have a conviction. In these cases it is proposed that a licence may be granted for 12 months rather than 5 years and the premises/licence holder will be closely monitored

2. Amenity standards

The council is also consulting on the proposed HMO amenity standards and welcome your views.

In addition, there are statutory proposed management standards that apply to Houses in Multiple Occupation.

Please see the consultation documents section on amenity standards.

3. Licence conditions and application documentation

There would be specific conditions attached to each licence issued which would relate to the management of the property. Several of the conditions would be mandatory, imposed by the Housing Act.

The proposed licence conditions can be found in the consultation documents section.

These licence conditions would be monitored by the council to ensure that they were being complied with and we would be able to offer support and guidance to licence holders on how to comply with the conditions.

In addition, tenants would be able to report issues to the council and we would then be able to request that the licence holder carries out relevant remedial works.

In order to demonstrate competent property management, the landlord should provide evidence on application: 

  • annual gas safety certificate
  • electrical installation condition certificate in the last 5 years and a portable appliance test certificate
  • an automated alarm system in the event of fire, and if appropriate emergency lighting.
  • evidence of arrangements which demonstrate competent property management – management records and copies of tenancy agreements
  • the suitability of management structures and adequacy of management structures
  • floor plan with room sizes and uses clearly shown
  • copy of the EPC where this applies
  • current occupancy details
  • any proposed licence holder or manager of the property will be required to make a declaration that they are fit and proper persons
  • in addition to mandatory conditions the council may attach local conditions. The set of discretionary conditions can be found at this link for consultation.

4. Fit and Proper Persons protocol 

The licence would come with certain conditions that would require the landlord or letting agent to meet certain standards before they can legally rent out the property. In order to become a licence holder, the landlord or letting agent must also past a fit and proper person test.

We are consulting on thefit and proper person protocol. 

Criteria to consider before introducing an additional scheme

In order to consider establishing an additional licensing scheme the Housing Act 2004 requires that certain criteria must be met.

The authority must consider that a significant proportion of the HMOs of the description to be included in the area are being managed sufficiently ineffectively as to give rise, or likely to give rise, to one or more particular problems either for those occupying the HMO or for member of the public.

The authority must have regard to any information regarding the extent to which any codes of practice approved under section 233 of the Housing Act 2004 have been complied with by persons managing HMOs in the area:

The council has had regard to the following Codes of Practice under section 233 in relation to the management of student housing and for the purposes of schedule 14 which lists buildings which are not HMOs for the purpose of the Housing Act 2004

  • The ANUK/Unipol Code of Standards for Larger Developments for Student Accommodation Managed and Controlled by Educational Establishment
  • The Universities UK/Guild HE Code of Practice for the Management of Student Housing

The authority must consider whether there are other courses of action available to them that might prove an effective method of dealing with the problem.

Consideration of this is contained in section 2 of the Cabinet report.

Share your views

The council is required to consult local residents, landlords, letting agents, tenants and other interested parties before designating areas for additional HMO licensing. The consultation will run for a period of 12 weeks from 1 March to 24 May 2018.

Consultation documents

Drop-ins sessions

The information provided gives the main points of the scheme. If you would like to find out more, please come along to one of the public drop-in sessions at 6.30 – 8.30pm at: 

15 March 2018 - Professional Development Centre, Bethnal Green G04

229 Bethnal Green Rd
London
E2 6AB

28 March 2018 – Idea Store Canary Wharf

Churchill Place
E14 5RB


Churchill Place is the new mall to the east of the estate, at the foot of the Barclays tower.

12 April 2018 – Idea Store Bow

1 Gladstone Place
Roman Road
E3 5ES

23 April 2018 – Mulberry Place, Council Chambers

Mulberry Place
5 Clove Crescent
E14 2BG 

Please share your views by completing the survey.

Share your views

 

At the end of the consultation period, we will consider the representations made before deciding whether to introduce Additional Licensing as proposed or make amendments or not to introduce the scheme.

We will publish its findings of the consultation and if the additional licensing is to be introduced, there will be a minimum of a three months notification period before any scheme will come into force to enable affected landlords time to apply for a licence.

If you are interested in further information about the proposed consultation scheme, please email housinglicensing@towerhamlets.gov.uk