HMO and residential property licensing reforms – consultation paper Oct 2016

by Readers Question

14:33 PM, 14th November 2016
About 2 years ago

HMO and residential property licensing reforms – consultation paper Oct 2016

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HMO and residential property licensing reforms – consultation paper Oct 2016

I am a busy landlady and campaigner for good landlords.  At the moment we are studying this consultation by the DCLG and it is another nightmare of tricks for the compliant HMO operator. We have a chain of HMO’s and it is terrifying. DCLG

Please Click Here to download the consultation.

It was published in mid October and will close in mid December.  They are piling on all these changes at once. Our local Landlords Association, SEAL in Southend on Sea, which formed to fight Selective Licensing in 2012, and got it shelved, is meeting to work out a response on Tuesday.

At the moment my objections are : –

  1. the unclear language and complete disregard for the market conditions.
  2. what is the proposed average fee of £500 for, per owner, property or room…in which case for our 70 rooms we need to remortgage to raise finance just to do what we already do, provide a very good service, employ people, and help keep people off the streets when the councils cannot provide enough housing.
  3. Yet again they punish the compliant professionals, more work so rents go up.
  4. Room sizes, mandatory regardless of whether tenants want a small cheap room so they can send more money home….evict them, why not.
  5. How will we do that when the Councils and the CAB tell the tenants to stay put.

There is a lot about student blocks, we have experience of the shared student houses but not of the blocks so others will comment on that.

So we are experiencing the Universal Credit effect of not taking DSS tenants, so the bottom of the market is restricted to the rougher cheaper properties and their less careful owners.

Then we have the tenant tax and the crushing effect on entrepreneurship and peoples plans for the past decade.

Now we have this HMO Consultation.

All of the above add up to higher rents and restricting the vulnerable bottom of the market to the likely crooks.

I hope to work out an alternative proposal to put to them.  We did that with Selective Licensing to great success according to the Council, the Police and our Members. We plan to rope both our MP’s into regular catch ups with the above as the theme with the promise of not voting for them in a few years time.

Judith



Comments

Steve Hards

17:48 PM, 14th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Many thanks for drawing this to our attention, Judith.

I've just downloaded it and started to read the Introduction. However, I nearly fell off my chair at the first paragraph!

"The Government values the private rented sector. It is a very important part of the country’s housing market, housing around 4.3 million households in England. We want to see the sector thrive and offer quality well managed accommodation."

As actions speak louder than words, and the Government's actions the past few years have directly signalled the opposite of that statement, I'm now very worried what other doublespeak I'm about to read!!

Reader

10:58 AM, 15th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Dear Judith,

I first heard of this at a national seminar last November. Quite clearly there is a lot of detail involved in the many considerations but there is just one request I would make to central government when it determines the regieme under which we trade. That is for goodness sake please set a national standard that is applicable to all local councils. It is a nightmare dealing with the varying views of different councils and different Housing Officers therein, it is just to discretionary and at the whim of the councilors and local officers.

A national set standards may help us especially if the considerations were driven by property professionals rather than political masters.

Richard Peeters

13:33 PM, 15th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Although we can have no objection to keeping HMO rooms SAFE, this is not the same as dictating whether rooms need to be a 1-star or 5-star rating (both can be safe). No-one would say that a Travelodge room is any less safe than one at the Ritz.

As many landlords have pointed out, there is a significant proportion of our guests who seek out the smallest and cheapest rooms.

By dictating a larger minimum size, this will eliminate thousands of 1-star rooms in a single stroke. Those occupants might not be able to afford the 2-star rooms, so where will they go then? Tent city?

Have you also noticed that by migrating on all these additional properties to Licensing, immediately the little clause on hand-wash basins will kick in (to the effect that all bedrooms in Licensed HMOs MUST have hand wash basins “where reasonable practicable”, which LAs are interpreting and enforcing “where technically possible”. We’ve put men on the Moon, so it will be hard to argue a wash basin is impossible to retrofit.

Thus, not only will all the 1-star rooms be eliminated, so will many 2-star rooms, wherever landlords cannot justify or afford to do all the works needed to connect wash basins in all those rooms.

Where landlords raise rents to recover the wash basin installation costs over some period of months, this will price some people out of the remaining 2-star rooms too.

Because many HMOs will have fewer rooms to spread the fixed costs (mortgages, council tax, insurance, heating), then rents for the remaining rooms will need to be increased accordingly.

A poorly thought-out regulation, despite its good intention, will immediately make thousands of rooms unusable in HMOs; raising rents in many others. All because some well-meaning public servants impose their personal preferences (for rooms at the Ritz) rather than let people choose their own levels as they can afford or prefer.

By all means keep HMO rooms SAFE, but let the market dictate what size rooms are attractive, and whether people want to pay extra for wash basins or not.

HMOLandlady

14:18 PM, 15th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Dear Judith

Thank you for bringing this to everyone's attention. I had heard a little about the consultation paper but hadn't researched it enough - I will now! I agree with you and Richard - applying a "one size fits all" approach isn't helping the market. I have happily housed Housing Benefit and working tenants in HMOs for 10 years now. 80% of the housing benefit tenants are great, but if they want to move on (voluntarily or through eviction) the only way they can receive council assistance is via the Possession Order route and l they have now been told to stay until the bailiffs turn up. All they want is a reasonably priced room which is clean, safe, free from anti-social behaviour by a landlord and fellow tenants. If the minimum room size, etc is imposed the larger rooms will be beyond their budgets and requirements.

I appreciate national minimum standards should be put in place, but surely the efforts to police the regulations should be concentrated on landlords who subscribe to the business model of overcrowding and slashing costs by turning off the heating and wiring the electrics into the street lamps?

Dr Rosalind Beck

16:27 PM, 15th November 2016
About 2 years ago

I think if washbasins need to go in to rooms which are close to the 6.5 metre minimum size then bed sizes will probably have to shrink to single ones which I believe none of my tenants would want. This is another example of appearing to help tenants whilst doing something that is contrary to their wishes.

Luke P

12:28 PM, 16th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Dr Rosalind Beck" at "15/11/2016 - 16:27":

Whilst desirable, what is the reason for wash basins in rooms? There are many other facilities that are not available in rooms either, so why specifically wash basins?

Dr Rosalind Beck

13:12 PM, 16th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Luke P" at "16/11/2016 - 12:28":

Hi Luke. You make the mistake of assuming rationality on the part of policy-makers. We are being ruled over by people who have no idea what they are doing.

matchmade

23:27 PM, 17th November 2016
About 2 years ago

See past discussion of the handbasin issue at https://www.property118.com/hmo-bedrooms-with-basins-mandatory/46580/

Rob Crawford

21:49 PM, 19th November 2016
About 2 years ago

The 6.5 square meter room is already a legal minimum. What is new is that only floor space with ceiling height above 1.5m can be added in the calculation. Any height restriction is currently at the discretion of the Gov't (it is often given as 1.5m in HMO licensing requirements but as it is discretionary, local authorities tend to be flexible depending on the size of other shared rooms). These new height requirements will not be discretionary. As such many nice attic space rooms would fail the new calculation and evictions will result. Please ensure your response to this consultancy includes the removal of what will become a statuary height restriction.

Rob Crawford

21:57 PM, 19th November 2016
About 2 years ago

Ref to my last & before you ask: Housing Act 1985 c. 68 PART X Definition of overcrowding (its in imperial but calculates to 6.5m and 10.3m square).

"4. The Secretary of State may by regulations prescribe the manner in which the floor area of a room is to be ascertained for the purposes of this section; and the regulations may provide for the exclusion from computation, or the bringing into computation at a reduced figure, of floor space in a part of the room which is of less than a specified height not exceeding eight feet."

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