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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Just 135 of 3,000 landlords have signed up to new statuary license

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.

  • Paul Barrett

    The simplest solution for these new HMO LL is to remove officially 1 tenant leaving 4.
    Of course this must cause these LL much financial distress.
    But perhaps reducing to 4 occupants is cheaper than having to comply with the new HMO requirements such as room sizes.
    It might be knee jerk reaction but removing a fifth occupant at least gives the LL opportunity to consider his position.
    It would give opportunity for the LL to reconfigure and carry out any relevant adjustments to make a property viable as a licensable HMO.
    Of course once the fifth occupant has been removed from all records relating to the property there is nothing to prevent the former tenant from visiting on a regular basis his former tenant sharers.
    I believe a guest can visit a maximum of 140 days per year and no more than 30 days at a time.
    How would a council be able to detect the occupancy of a guest?
    Then of course there is the question as to whether each of the remaining 4 tenants has the opportunity to indvidually invite the former tenant to be their guest.
    So that would be 4 periods of 140 days each!
    The guest bedroom does not have to be HMO compliant.
    Regular guests which result in there being 5 occupants does NOT require a HMO licence.
    It would be completely up to the guest as to whether they chose to give any consideration to their host
    The LL could charge in total the same for 4 tenants as he did for 5.
    It would be purely coincidental if any consideration a regular guest might choose to pass onto a host might be exactly the same as was paid by a fifth occupant.
    A guest has no physical financial connection to a property.
    So Big Brother Connect would not be able to ascertain whether a guest was in reality occupying the guest bedroom 365 days a year.
    It would be relatively easy for a fifth occupant who would now be a guest to have all his affairs sent to another address.
    I doubt whether any council has the staff or powers to check the status of all the occupants of a property on a daily basis.
    So if councils think they are going to receive lots of additional HMO fee income they need to think again.
    There will soon be lots of guests staying at properties now officially occupied by only 4 occupants.
    Silly old Govt and councils!!!!
    LL cannot be expected to know the status of guests.
    It would be just pure coincidence that every time they attend the property the same guest is there who will potentially be the former fifth tenant!!
    The same goes for Additional licensing.
    Will the council be checking if the bed is warm every day to confirm whether 3 occupants are 3 households rather than two.
    Tenant's have been known to become involved.
    I would be very surprised to find 3 occupants not end up as two households rather than 3 so avoiding silky additional licensing.
    How would the council disprove an alleged relationship of tenants?

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