Be ready for the New HMO Licensing Scheme
What changes are taking place to HMO Licensing in Hastings?
From the 4th May 2018 the Council will be introducing a new Additional Licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation. A public consultation was undertaken between March and June 2017, and the results of this consultation were reported to Cabinet. The scheme was designated on the 10th October 2017 and you can view a copy of the formal designation.
The designation covers Castle, Central St Leonards, Gensing and Braybrooke wards, and applies to most HMOs in those areas, including buildings converted into self-contained flats where they are HMOs by definition under Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004. Two storey shared house HMOs with less than 5 residents sharing facilities are excluded from the designation.
Why is the Council doing this?
A stock condition survey undertaken in 2016 found that only 50% of HMOs in the town centre wards had mains wired smoke detectors and only 61% of flats and HMOs had a protected escape route. One in seven (14%) of privately rented properties had one or more category one hazards. In Castle ward this proportion increased to 1 in 5 (20%). HMO licensing will help address hazardous conditions in HMOs, and shorter licences for non-compliant properties will encourage landlords to upgrade their properties and management standards.
My flats are already licensed. Why do I need to license my HMO?
Your flat licences (Selective Licence) only cover the individual flats themselves. They do not cover the building containing the flats, or the common parts. An HMO licence is required by the owner of the building and will include all the common parts i.e. the stairs, passageways, fire doors, means of escape, gardens and anything else used in common between different flats. The HMO licence will also include any flats directly controlled by the Licence holder which are let on a lease (or tenancy) of 21 years or less.
What's the difference between this scheme and the previous scheme?
Although the schemes are broadly similar, there are some essential differences between the current proposal and the original 2011 scheme.
- There will be no automatic right to a five year licence (see "What are the different types of licence" below). Non-compliant HMOs will only receive a one year licence. Properties meeting our basic standards will receive a three year licence, and those landlords who can meet better standards than the basic standards will receive a full 5 year licence.
- Licences will run for the full term for which they were granted. At the end of the scheme any valid licences will continue to run until their expiry date.
- Applications will be online. This will reduce costs to the Council and to the licence holder.
- Applicants will be able to upload documents (send them electronically) to the Council
- Some documents will need to be sent as part of the application.
- Licence applicants for HMOs comprising self-contained flats will be required to have previously obtained Selective licences for each flat they control in the HMO, or pay the equivalent amount as part of their HMO licence application.
- Fees will be flat rate of either £400 or £1000, irrespective of the size of the HMO. An additional surcharge may apply for any flats which should have been licensed under the Selective scheme (as per item 6. Above)
- To obtain a full five year licence, managing agents must sign a declaration to confirm they agree to be jointly liable for complying with the conditions of the licence.
How long will I get to apply?
Previous and new licence holders will get 4 months to apply for a new licence at the standard rate of £400. This will rise to £1000 after 4 months if no application is submitted. Failure to submit an application is an offence and you may be fined for not licensing your property. Applicants who failed to licence their property under the previous scheme will also be subject to an initial licence fee of £1000.
Who is responsible for applying for a licence?
In the case of a shared house HMO it will be the "person who collects the rack rent" i.e. the landlord or managing agent.
In the case of a building comprising self-contained flats, where none of these are subject to long leases (over 21 years), the person having control of the building (normally the freeholder) will be responsible for applying for the licence.
In the case of an HMO comprising one or more leasehold self-contained flats, it will be:-
- The Right to Manage Company or
- Person appointed by First tier tribunal (ex LVT)or
- Head lessee or freeholder (may be a company or charity)or
- Person appointed by RTM, Head Lessor or Freeholder i.e. a Manager.
The Council would normally look to the first named in descending order to be the licence holder. In any event they will have to be someone capable of authorising works to the property.
What are the different types of licence I can obtain?
There are three licence tariffs available, which are Standard, Advanced and Professional. A table showing the requirements for each type of licence can be found here.
Standard 1 Year Advanced 3 Years Professional 5 Years Previous Licence Holders
- Must have previously held an HMO Licence
- Must apply within grace period**
As Standard, plus:
- Fire Safety Risk Assessment
- Up to date certification (gas, electrical and the like)
- Full planning permission granted for HMO use
- No outstanding licence conditions or Enforcement Notices
As Advanced, plus:
- Must adhere to Private Rented Sector Code of Practice
- All flats must have EPC rating of E or above
- Must provide a declaration of suitable management
- Managers to be bound by the conditions of the licence
New Licence Holders
- Must have acquired the property since the end of the previous HMO licensing scheme
- Must apply within grace period**
- Where proposed licence holder failed to licence HMO under previous scheme or
- Failed to apply within grace period**
* A Selective Licensing surcharge may be payable if you have one or more rented flats for which a licence is required
** Refers to the period of 4 months beginning with the date on which the additional licensing scheme launches, during which discounted rates are available
When can I apply and what should I do in the meantime?
You will be able to apply on line from the 4th May 2018 when the new software should be ready.
Before you apply you should collect together the various documents you will need to make an application.
This would include:
- A valid Fire Safety Risk Assessment (where there are common parts)
- Fire Alarm test certificate undertaken within last 12 months
- Emergency Lighting test report.
- A current Electrical certificate for the HMO and any within the HMO
- Gas safety certificates for the HMO and any flats within the HMO
- Portable Appliance Testing certificate for any landlord provided equipment
- Evidence of planning permission (for shared house HMOs only)
- You will also need to ensure that you have complied with any previous licence conditions
If you can provide all of the above, you should be eligible for a 3 year 'Advanced' licence. If you cannot obtain these standards you will be given a one year 'Standard' licence in the first instance. To obtain a full five year licence you will need to provide further management declarations and confirm that any flats you control meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) of an E rating.
Is this anything to do with changes to National HMO licensing?
No, but the Government has announced new proposals extending HMO licensing to all shared houses and flats, with 5 or more residents effectively removing the "3 storey rule". The Government have announced that this will be implemented from October 2018.
Houses in Multiple Occupation
- Report an empty home
- Report a rogue Landlord
- HMO enquiries
- Report housing disrepair
- I need landlord advice
- Report nuisance from another property
Got a question about housing and homes?01424 451100
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