Hundreds of homes to be affected by rental law change
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An estimated 600 rental properties in the Chelmsford area are expected to be affected by new national regulations.
From Monday, October 1 all houses in multiple occupation that are occupied by five or more people and home to two or more households will legally require a licence. Currently, only properties of three of more storeys need a council licence.
Landlords who require a licence under the new rules must submit their application to Chelmford Council by October 1.
Anyone operating a HMO without the appropriate licence is at risk of receiving a criminal record and an unlimited fine.
A licence lasts for five years. To make sure residents are safe, it includes conditions relating to fire protection, smoke and carbon monoxide detection, room sizes and waste collection.
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Councillor Susan Sullivan, cabinet member for safer communities, said: “The advice is not to wait until the last minute to make an application for a licence.
“Your applications must be submitted by October 1, after which it will be an offence to have an unlicensed HMO but landlords and agents can apply now for a licence via the council’s website.”
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All HMOs have to have a certain level of facilities suitable for the number of occupants. Guidance on these facilities, and links to HMO licence application forms, can be found on the council’s website at chelmsford.gov.uk/housing/landlords
Basildon Council is also urging landlords in its area to ensure they are legally allowed to operate an HMO.
Councillor Don Morris, chairman of Basildon Council’s housing committee, said: “The private rented sector is continuing to grow in the borough, with a particular increase in the number of HMOs. We welcome these measures, which are designed to ensure that properties are free from hazards and fit for purpose, with minimum space requirements being imposed to prevent overcrowding.
“We are committed to continuing to work with landlords to ensure our residents have access to good quality, affordable and safe accommodation which meets their needs.
“It’s important that tenants and members of the public are not afraid to come forward with their concerns so we can hold any landlords who fail to fulfil their legal obligations to account.”
All HMOs, whether they are covered by the licensing criteria or not, are subject to periodic inspection by the environmental health team.