Date issued: 31 August 2018
Landlords of shared accommodation are being urged to familiarise themselves with and prepare for the upcoming changes to the licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) which come into force on 1 October 2018.
At present, a HMO licence is only required if the house is three or more storeys high, however, under new national legislation, from 1 October all shared accommodation (including flats) in the borough which meet the following criteria will require a licence granted by Colchester Borough Council:
- Is occupied by 5 or more people from 2 or more households (i.e. the occupiers are not all members of the same family);
- Occupants share 1 or more basic amenity (i.e. kitchen, bathroom, or toilet)
Anyone wishing to check whether the property they own, manage or live in is affected by the licensing changes, can do so using the Council’s free online licence checker tool on its website. Those using this checker tool can also register their email address to then receive direct email updates and advice leading up to the changes coming into effect.
Anyone who requires a licence will be able to apply, pay for and submit supporting documents for their HMO licence under the new legislation at www.colchester.gov.uk/hmolicensing, from mid-September.
All HMO property owners who require a licence, must submit their applications by 1 October. Failure to do so will be a criminal offence.
Colchester Borough Council has been raising awareness of the upcoming legislation changes and working with landlords and letting agents with properties in the borough for several months. A range of useful information and resources is also available on the Council’s website, including step-by-step guidance notes to help those affected by the legislation changes.
In June, Colchester Borough Council, together with a number of other local authorities in Essex, held a public consultation with those who own, let or live in privately rented accommodation, the results of which have been fed in to the Essex-wide HMO standards which will also apply to properties in the borough from 1 October.
The upcoming national changes to HMO licensing have been introduced by Government to give councils the ability to improve poor quality accommodation and raise management standards in Houses in Multiple Occupation. With the high cost of housing and more residents living in HMOs in the town, the council needs to ensure they are safe and well managed, and that landlords don’t let unsafe or unsuitable accommodation.
Councillor Tina Bourne, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Communities, said: “I would urge landlords and those managing local HMOs to look as soon as possible at the information on the council’s website and check how the legislation changes affect their properties. They will need to ensure their properties meet the standards required and that they have all relevant documents like gas and electrical certificates prepared, in order to be able to apply for a licence as soon as the application form is available on the website.
“The council is committed to improving living standards for residents and we look forward to working with landlords to ensure the new licensing system is a great success.”