Landlords urged to start preparing over changes to licensing houses in multiple occupation
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Landlords are being urged to start their preparation over changes to the licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMO).
Officials at West Suffolk councils of St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath are writing to more than 70 landlords to advise them of the changes made by the Government.
From October 1 any landlord who lets a HMO to five or more people must be licenced by their local housing authority. Previously only landlords operating HMOs that were three storeys or higher with five or more tenants, had to be licenced.
Sara Mildmay-White, Cabinet Member for Housing for West Suffolk councils, said: “We want to work with our local landlords for the good of their tenants. That is one of the reasons that we set up the West Suffolk Landlords Forum earlier this year, as a way of making landlords across West Suffolk, aware of the changes that affect them and their tenants and the support and advice that we, and our partner agencies, can provide.
“These changes by the Government are welcome. They give greater authority to the council to ensure that tenants in HMOs are not being made to live in crammed, unfit or unsafe conditions.
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“We expect standards to improve under these regulations and we are working with partners, including the Fire Service, and other local councils to ensure that this builds on the work that we are already doing particularly around fire safety.”
Any landlorxs who fail to comply with the regulations are deemed to be committing an offence under the Housing Act 2004 and could be fined up to £20,000 in the Magistrates’ Court.
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On top of this, the councils’ own Civil Sanctions Policy means that landlords could also be served a penalty of up to £30,000 per breach.
Councillor Mildmay-White added: “Ultimately, although we have these powers, we want landlords to work with us which is why we will be sending out letters to more than 70 landlords of unlicensed HMOs that we know have five or more tenants. We are also updating our website with a new HMO application form as well as a document that will give helpful information and guidance.”
Any landlords who want to find out more should visit www.westsuffolk.gov.uk/hmo or contact the Public Health and Housing Team on 01284 763233 or 01638 719000.