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Richard Pulford

Dispute resolution

When you are considering letting out a property either as a landlord or managing agent, one of the first checks that should be whether the proposed occupancy would mean that the property would need to be licensed by the local authority either under the mandatory, additional or selective licensing schemes.

Wooden House And Magnifying Glass

These sorts of schemes are becoming more common place. Whilst the Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) requirements have been in force for some time already, there has been a definitive move for more oversight in rental sector. One of the more effective ways of doing this is to ensure via proper licensing, that a landlord is a ‘fit and proper person’ and that the housing conditions are up to a suitable standard.

Liverpool, Oldham, Westminster and Ealing amongst others have incorporated schemes of some description during the late stages of 2021 and early 2022. Places such as Barking & Dagenham, Brent, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Newham, Oxford, Southwark, Tower Hamlets & Bristol already have schemes in place and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Mandatory licensing where the property is occupied by five or more people forming more than one family unit, applies irrespective of your specific local authority. However, beyond this, the councils have scope to apply the requirements that they see fit. These decisions can be made due to a number of factors including  low housing demand (or is likely to become such an area), a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour, poor property conditions or management, high levels of migration, high level of deprivation, high levels of crime.

Whilst these decisions can be challenged (with varying degrees of success) during the consultation process, there is often little that can be done once a scheme is in place.

One of the reasons that this is so important for landlords and agents to know about is the significant penalties for non-compliance even if the property itself is managed and maintained well and in line with the landlord’s repairing obligations. One of the potential remedies any failure to license we have previously addressed in our Rent Repayment Order blog. Equally it is not a defence to claim ignorance; it is the landlord and agents responsibility to go through their due diligence prior to letting out the property.

This is one of the key benefits to Landlords of keeping up to date with their local authority’s actions/plans and instructing a good managing agent who is able to keep them abreast of any changes and enforcement habits of that particular authority.

Consistent with our policy when giving comment and advice on a non-specific basis, we cannot assume legal responsibility for the accuracy of any particular statement. In the case of specific problems we recommend that professional advice be sought.


Get in touch

Should you, either as a private Landlord or managing agent, find yourselves in difficulty regarding Houses in Multiple Occupation, it is important to seek advice as early as possible. Boyes Turner would certainly be able to assist with this and should your require further assistance, I can be contacted at [email protected]

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