Multiple occupancy licencing now in force

The much-vaunted and oft-attacked national regulations for the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupancy came into effect on April 6.

The much-vaunted and oft-attacked national regulations for the licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupancy came into effect on April 6.

The new rules replace voluntary codes operated by landlords and agents and aim to raise standards in the rental market, helping tenants, particularly young and vulnerable people, source better quality accommodation and rid the market of overcrowding, poorly managed properties and act as a guarantee for decent quality, safe accommodation.

But while added red tape and potential expense have seen the scheme receive mixed reaction from landlords, experts believe it will have a positive impact on the reputation of the private rental sector, particularly with regards to student accommoda-tion and homes for migrant workers, for which there is huge demand in Norwich and across Norfolk.

They believe the licensing will ensure a consistent level of standards and that property management is adhered to.

A reputable landlord's primary focus should be to provide high quality accommodation for their tenants and the regulations will help landlords prove their properties are of the highest standard.

Mark Alexander, managing director of Norwich-based buy-to-let mortgage specialists The Money Centre, said: “A continued lack of affordable housing for first-time buyers continues to drive demand for rental properties, especially flats, and is attracting more landlords to the HMO market. It is crucial that new investors are regulated to protect tenants from rogue landlords and ensure they pay a fair rent for a good standard of accommodation, and that their health and safety is not at risk.”

Most Read

The new regulations require landlords who own houses with more than three storeys and with more than five occupants to obtain a licence from their local authority. This will affect student accommodation in particular as well as bed sits and flats within converted buildings.

Although the licence is an addiditional fee for the landlord, costing between £400 and £1,000, Mr Alexander believes the regulations are a boost for the reputation of the buy-to-let industry and something all committed landlords will welcome.

Landlords who neglect their property and their tenant's needs, letting basic levels of safety, comfort and hygiene slip below requirements, will lose their right to regain vacant possession of their property. This will rid the industry of unsatisfactory properties and inadequate landlords, and ensure the highest level of service is delivered to tenants.

Some local authorities will use their power to enforce licensing to a wider remit of properties. This selective licensing will address problem areas, where poor management exists, as well as in areas where anti-social behaviour is a problem.

To qualify for the licence, landlords must meet minimum requirements in terms of the number of bathrooms, washbasins, toilets, showers, cooking and laundry facilities. The regulations also assess fire safety standards, overcrowding and inadequate facilities. Local authorities will investigate HMOs and ensure the properties are up to standards before granting the licence.

The new regulations have the protection of the tenant at the forefront. But landlords will also benefit from a better reputation, unscrupulous landlords should disappear and tenants should have increased confidence that their monthly rent is going towards a property and landlord worthy of the money.