News broke last week that from the 1st of April 2019, Tower Hamlets Council will be introducing an ‘Additional’ licensing scheme for multi-occupied premises under the provisions within the Housing Act 2004. This Additional Licensing Scheme will cover the whole borough excluding the current Selective licensing designation (Spitalfields and Banglatown, Weavers, Whitechapel pre-2014 wards). There are currently 2 licensing schemes operating in Tower Hamlets, Mandatory HMO licences – for properties with 5 or more tenants from two or more households this is Borough wide (this excludes flats within purpose-built blocks of flats). Selective licences – this is required for any privately rented property irrespective of number of floors or tenants within Weavers, Whitechapel, Spitalfields and Banglatown wards. The Additional Licensing Scheme for Tower Hamlets will include all properties with three or more tenants forming two or more different households irrespective of the property type i.e. it is to include all flats and houses. The reason for the introduction of an Additional Licensing Scheme by the council is to regulate premises where basics such as fire regulations and overcrowding are a problem, obviously for most landlords this won’t be a problem but for any rogue landlords out there that exploit tenants there will be a lot of work to do to ensure they comply. So how is it going to work? Landlords or lettings agents of HMOs that are within the licensed area and do not fall under the two current schemes already in operation will need to apply for a licence for each property they let that fits the criteria, so all properties with three or more tenants forming two or more different households irrespective of the property type. The licence will contain certain conditions that would require the landlord or letting agent to meet certain standards before they can legally rent out the property. In order to become a licence holder, the landlord or letting agent must also pass a fit and proper person test. The application will be assessed by an Environmental Health officer. An inspection of the property may be carried out and a licence will be issued with mandatory conditions that must be followed. In order to demonstrate competent property management, the landlord should provide evidence on application:
• annual gas safety certificate
• electrical installation condition certificate in the last 5 years and a portable appliance test certificate
• an automated alarm system in the event of fire, and if appropriate emergency lighting.
• evidence of arrangements which demonstrate competent property management – management records and copies of tenancy agreements
• floor plan with room and kitchen sizes clearly shown
• copy of the EPC where this applies
• current occupancy details (tenancy agreements)
With the new scheme coming into operation in just over four months Landlords and managing agents have a fair amount to consider to ensure they are compliant by the imposed introduction date.