A new additional property licensing scheme has been introduced this week for landlords operating in the London borough of Barnet in north London following a decision by the council’s housing committee earlier this year to raise yet more money at the expense of landlords.
The property licensing scheme, which started on Tuesday 5th July, applies across the borough and includes certain Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) containing four or more people who are not all related.
The additional licensing scheme applies to residential properties two or more storeys high, flats on the second or higher storey and owner occupied homes with four or more lodgers.
The scheme also includes so-called ‘Section 257 HMOs’ - buildings that have been converted into self-contained flats and meet certain criteria – but this aspect of licensing only applies to three storey buildings where the building and all the flats are owned by the same person.
According to the council, there are close to 6,000 HMOs in Barnet, of which around 3,900 will need to be licensed.
Barnet claim to have strong support for the licensing scheme, with 75% of those consulted approving the proposals. But less than 20% of the support actually came from landlords and letting agents, but instead overwhelming came from private tenants, residents and other organisations.
The council has said, somewhat bizarrely, that landlords who apply within three months of the scheme declaration will be eligible for a 5-year licence, whereas any applications after that date will only be eligible for a 1-year licence unless they can show good reason for the late application.
Fees are also on the increase, with a 5-year standard licence application costing £1,008 for five people, whereas the same 1-year licence will cost £655.
Barnet council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius said: “There is no doubt that well managed HMOs have an important role to play in helping meet our housing needs.
“From research we know though that people living in HMOs can be vulnerable and at increased risk of being exploited by landlords. Our recent survey of people living in HMOs was a cause for concern.”
“For these reasons we are taking action to help drive-up standards of HMOs across the private rented sector to encourage good landlords and crack down on rogue landlords who expose their tenants to unnecessary health and safety risks though substandard accommodation.”