Charn­wood Bor­ough replies...

Loughborough Echo - - LETTERS -

THANK you for al­low­ing us the op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to your let­ter writer.

Cur­rently in Charn­wood, some houses in mul­ti­ple oc­cu­pa­tion (HMO) are gov­erned by the Hous­ing Act 2004 and in Lough­bor­ough, also a plan­ning pol­icy in­tro­duced in 2012.

The crit­i­cal word is “some” as the leg­is­la­tion – lo­cal or na­tional – does not cover every sin­gle HMO and it’s a com­plex area gov­erned by dif­fer­ent sets of reg­u­la­tions.

Un­til April this year, un­der the Hous­ing Act any prop­erty in the UK which had three storeys or more and was oc­cu­pied by five or more peo­ple liv­ing in two or more sin­gle house­holds was re­quired to be li­censed by the lo­cal au­thor­ity. This was a re­quire­ment set out by the Hous­ing Act 2004.

The Gov­ern­ment has now ex­tended the manda­tory li­cens- ing sys­tem in the Hous­ing Act to re­move the three storey el­e­ment. There­fore any prop­erty with five or more oc­cu­pants in two or more house­holds needs to be li­censed. This may mean that some smaller HMOs do not re­quire to be li­censed.

The Gov­ern­ment has also in­tro­duced min­i­mum room sizes un­der the manda­tory li­cens­ing sys­tem. These changes came into ef­fect in April, but there is a six­month grace pe­riod.

Charn­wood Bor­ough Coun­cil in­tro­duced a plan­ning pol­icy for HMO prop­er­ties in Lough­bor­ough in 2012 . This pol­icy, called an Ar­ti­cle 4 Di­rec­tion, re­quires any res­i­den­tial prop­erty with be­tween three and six re­lated oc­cu­pants to ap­ply for plan­ning per­mis­sion to op­er­ate as an HMO. It was brought in to help con­trol the lev­els of stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion but it can­not be ap­plied ret­ro­spec­tively.

Li­censes do not af­fect the res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties in Lough­bor­ough con­trolled un­der the coun­cil’s own Ar­ti­cle 4 Di­rec­tion.

In re­sponse to some of the points raised in your reader’s let­ter we would like to clar­ify:

• The coun­cil has a pub­lic reg­is­ter show­ing all 366 li­censed HMOs in the bor­ough (up un­til March 2018) on its web­site www. bit.ly/CharnHMO

• The coun­cil has a pri­vate sec­tor hous­ing en­force­ment pol­icy and takes ac­tion in ac­cor­dance with the pol­icy.

• Over­seas land­lords are con­tactable and some use lo­cal agents

• Re­gard­ing the EPC cer­tifi­cates, yes the changes came in last month, but there is a six month grace pe­riod (set out by the gov­ern­ment, not the coun­cil)

• Prop­er­ties that are li­cens­able need to pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion with room sizes that meet the reg­u­la­tions

• The new min­i­mum room size mea­sure­ments are part of the changes to the Hous­ing Act’s manda­tory li­cens­ing scheme, not the plan­ning sys­tem. There are no min­i­mum room sizes set out in plan­ning reg­u­la­tions, re­gard­less of whether a de­vel­op­ment is for a home or HMO

If any­one be­lieves a prop­erty is in breach of any of the reg­u­la­tions in re­spect of HMOs, please con­tact us and we will in­ves­ti­gate and ac­tion taken if ap­pro­pri­ate. Call 01509 634651 or re­port on­line via www.charn­wood.gov.uk/HMO

Coun Paul Mercer, lead mem­ber for hous­ing Coun Margaret Smi­d­ow­icz, lead mem­ber for reg­u­la­tory ser­vices

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