Private landlords in Ealing, one of London’s largest boroughs, will soon have to obtain a licence to operate a house in multiple occupation (HMO).
Ealing Council plans to introduce two new licensing schemes in January next year in an attempt to improve standards in the private rented sector in the borough, which is home to more than 137,000 residential properties, including around 36,000 properties which are rented from private landlords in the borough.
Under existing rules, only certain larger HMOs in Ealing are covered by the existing mandatory licensing scheme.
The new scheme will apply to all HMOs that are two storeys or more and occupied by four or more people but not covered by the mandatory scheme.
In addition, the new selective licensing will apply to all privately rented homes in Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Green and Southall Broadway wards where the council believes this type of licensing will deliver the most benefits to the community.
To obtain a licence for five years, landlords or managing agents will be required to pay a licence fee for each rented property in the designated schemes. The additional licensing fee is £1,100 for each HMO plus £30 for each habitable room and the selective licensing fee is £500.
Failure to obtain a licence may result in prosecution and an unlimited fine.
Applicants who sign up between 1 October and 31 December 2016 may be eligible to receive a 25% “early bird” discount.
Those who are already members of a recognised landlord’s accreditation scheme may also qualify for a further discount of £75.
Under the new proposals a licensed landlord will also have to comply with several conditions relating to the management and condition of the property, including gas, electrical, fire safety and other facilities provided.
A written tenancy agreement would be required and anti-social behaviour by tenants would not be permitted.
Councillor Ranjit Dheer, cabinet member for community services and safety, said: "The introduction of the additional and selective licensing schemes in Ealing will significantly reduce the number of complaints associated with private rented properties while allowing us to better protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants.
"Underlying our plans to expand our licensing schemes is the serious issue of poorly managed properties which lead to sub-standard living conditions and anti-social behaviour.
"By providing clear standards under which landlords will operate and tenants will know what to expect, we want to encourage stable, long-term tenancies that will then go on to create sustainable communities.
"All our residents deserve decent, safe homes to live in, and we are determined to drive up standards in the borough’s private rented sector.
"The new licensing schemes will give us the opportunity to achieve this and robustly tackle unscrupulous landlords."