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Additional HMO licensing

Walsall Council currently have two additional licensing schemes:

Background

Almost 16% of all rented property in the borough is a household of multiple occupation (HMO). Your home is an HMO if:

  • at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household (i.e. they are not related), and
  • they share a toilet or bathroom or kitchen

There are many good landlords and letting agents in the borough that provide a broad range of housing needs. Some landlords and agents do not manage their HMOs effectively. This leads to problems for those occupying the HMOs and for members of the public. Additional licensing should improve the quality of management of HMOs in specific wards.

What is additional licensing?

Additional licensing puts conditions on HMO landlords and agents. They must meet them in order to let a property. These conditions should lead to:

  • better managed properties
  • a reduction in anti-social behaviour (specifically untidy front gardens and dumping of rubbish)
  • improved living conditions for tenants

There are eight mandatory conditions set by the government. Councils are allowed to set other conditions that they think are appropriate. Our proposed conditions include: 

  • emergency lighting in HMOs
  • the need for the licence holder to be a ‘fit and proper person'
  • fire fighting equipment

Download list

Additional licensing operates in the same way and alongside the existing mandatory licensing scheme. The difference is that mandatory licensing is for HMO with five or more people, but additional licensing applies to all other HMOs. This includes section 257 HMO in the four wards. The same process will be followed, with the same legal obligations and penalties for failing to comply with the requirements.

Why do we have additional licensing schemes?

We have introduced the scheme in the approved wards to:

  • make sure that these HMOs are managed properly
  • reduce complaints of noise, rubbish, housing disrepair and other anti-social behaviour related to HMOs
  • continue to improve the HMO private rented sector
  • make sure the licence holder and manager are ‘fit and proper'
  • provide fundamental basic standards of accommodation, including safe gas and electrical appliances, fire safety precautions, suitable room sizes and adequate provision of kitchens and bathrooms for the number of occupants
  • assist in identifying and dealing with rogue landlords
  • improve neighbourhoods

Penalties

It is an offence under Section 72 of the Housing Act 2004 if a person having control of, or managing a HMO operates a licensable HMO which is required to be licensed under the Additional or Mandatory Licensing Scheme, but which is not so licensed.

If prosecuted, the maximum fine is unlimited. There is a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000.

Title of the scheme

To have licensing of smaller HMOs that are outside the existing mandatory licensing we needed to consult on what in legislation is called ‘additional licensing’. This is the official legal title. 

It does not mean that there will necessarily be an increase in HMOs, or that we support additional HMOs in any part of the borough.

It does mean that present and future HMOs must:

  • have a licence
  • be let to a good standard
  • managed properly by the landlord

Some landlords may choose to stop operating HMOs as they are unable to meet the licensing requirements.