There is growing concern in Reading that thousands of landlords could soon face enforcement action if they do not sign up to new statutory licence, with the deadline just weeks away.
Changes to mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing came into force in England on 1 October 2018, requiring properties with five or more occupants in two or more households to be licensed.
Under the new rules, mandatory HMO licensing has been extended to almost all HMOs that are occupied by five or more people and where there is some sharing of facilities, and that is expected to affect more than 160,000 properties.
The licensing scheme was previously restricted to properties that were three or more storeys in height.
The move means councils can now take further action to crack down on the small minority of landlords renting out substandard and overcrowded homes.
But Reading Borough Council is worried that many landlords in the local area are ignoring the new rules, with the deadline to apply for a licence fast approaching.
The council says that just only 135 of an estimated 3,000 landlords in Reading have signed up to the new requirement for smaller rented properties to apply for a licence.
Cllr John Ennis said: “Anecdotal evidence suggests that some landlords are reducing the number of tenants in their property to avoid licensing.”
Reading Borough Council rejected the government’s decision not to allow a grace period, giving landlords until January 31 to submit their applications. Any landlord failing to apply by the end of the month will be subject to enforcement action.