Charnwood Borough replies...
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