Landlords in Brighton and Hove could be affected by changes made to boundaries relating to the city’s houses in multiple occupation (HMO) licensing scheme.
As a result of the second phase of the additional licensing scheme for HMOs which came into force on 2nd November, owners of smaller HMOs in Brunswick & Adelaide, central Hove, East Brighton, Goldsmid, Preston Park, Regency and Westbourne wards must now apply for a licence.
Any property that covers two or more storeys and has three or more occupiers who make up at least two separate households is classed as an HMO. Attics and basements are classed as a storey if they are used for living accommodation.
Joanne Darroch, branch manager at Leaders in Hove, says: “It is important landlords in the city get their heads around these changes. Thousands of properties that were previously not included in the scheme could now require a licence - and anybody who is found not to hold one despite their property falling into the smaller HMO category could face a fine of up to £20,000.
“In addition, a Residential Property Tribunal can opt to force landlords to repay 12 months of rent to their tenants and prohibit the recovery of a property through a Section 21 notice.
“In particular, those letting out a house to sharers or students - who typically form numerous households within one property - should be aware of the requirements and act accordingly.
“If your property is located in one of the areas now within the council’s boundaries and meets the HMO classification, you should apply for a licence or speak to the council’s Private Sector Housing Team,” Joanne advises.
As well as counting attics and basements that are used as part of living accommodation towards the storeys in a property, landlords are reminded they must also include commercial floors - such as shops - if a home is located above or below them.
An HMO licence will be granted in cases where a property has been maintained in a safe and secure way. Inspectors will look for signs of proper management such as the provision of gas and electrical safety certificates, fire safety, general repairs and suitable tenancy agreements.
The cost of the licence depends on the size of a property and its occupancy and will last for the duration of the scheme, although a change in ownership will require the new owner to renew the licence.
For advice you can trust on all aspects of letting, renting, buying or selling in Brighton & Hove contact any of the five Leaders branches in Brighton and Hove.