New information has come to light about the Government’s plans to licence landlords.
In a speech last week, Prime Minister David Cameron called for a new licensing scheme to tackle landlords who “cram” their houses full of illegal immigrants and powers to make it easier for landlords to evict tenants in private rented housing.
There was widespread concern that this meant that a new licensing scheme would be introduced for all landlords in England.
However, the National Landlords Association (NLA) has sought clarification from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and was told the proposal for a mandatory licensing regime relates to homes of multiple occupation (HMOs) or 'shared housing’ only.
The proposal is to amend the definition of mandatory licensable HMOs – currently three storeys and five tenants. The DCLG intends to consult on the proposals before anything is implemented, with the exact timeframes to be confirmed.
The Residential Landlords Association says this could mean lowering the threshold of the number of people sharing a property, removing the three storey requirement, or both.
Removing the three-story rule could mean controversial “beds in sheds” will require licencing.
The RLA says that while seeming to dispel concerns over a general, national landlord licensing requirement, a great many homes and landlords not currently covered by local additional licensing schemes could find themselves caught under a new mandatory scheme.
This will also place local authorities under substantial pressure as they will have to process the large number of applications for new licences, assess the properties and carry out further enforcement against those who have not sought licences.
The RLA has warned that as the current local authority enforcement is often patchy, a new further area of enforcement work may make the situation worse rather than better.