London’s local authorities have been working tirelessly over the past year and a half in order to clean up the number of unlicensed HMO's within the capital. A huge number of unlicensed properties have been appearing more frequently leaving local authorities unable to identify the specific amount or where they are located.
This issue is further amplified as the new mandatory HMO licensing law which was implemented to counter these type of problems seems to be failing even after £2m was invested to help drive the initiative.
Experts are trying to figure out why it’s become so difficult to track the amount of unlicensed HMO's. A correlation to this could be local authorities not having a full understanding of the amount of the housing stock that’s available.
If people are refusing to join up to systems such as council tax, benefits register and immigration databases it’s very hard to track who’s living where doing what.
Furthermore, London’s local council's resources are stretched making it all the more difficult to identify rule breakers or even prosecute them. Seeking prosecution can at times turn into a drawn-out process that doesn’t always come with a guarantee banning order with a majority of cases resulting in fines that even then are sometimes not paid or delayed.
It’s not just London that is experiencing difficulties implementing the new HMO license. Liverpool city council are expecting a rise from 1,195 with a mandatory license to 5,000. Birmingham is projected to rise from 1,853 to 4,000.
How does the license work?
In the past 12 months, 103 HMO licenses were rejected with 18,881 being granted. HMO’s containing five or more people with shared facilities such as kitchen, bathroom or toilet must be licensed.
In order for landlords to gain a license, they will need to pass a ‘fit and proper’ test and provide proof that they are compliant with fire safety regulations and provide tenants with written terms and conditions pertaining to their tenancy of the premises.
The housing ministers believe that the amount of registered HMO's will be increased from 60,000 to 220,000 properties. Given the slow start the mandate has started off with it could be a while before any long-term targets are reached.
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