Landlords across Chichester District are being advised that they will need to apply for a new licence to meet new government regulations being brought in for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
The law comes into force on October 1 and has been brought in to improve the standards of private shared housing.
It means that landlords must apply for a House in Multiple Occupation licence before this date, otherwise they could be subject to council enforcement action.
The new requirement applies to landlords who are renting out a property of any number of storeys, occupied by five or more people who are unrelated, and who share kitchen and bathroom facilities. Previously only properties of three or more storeys with five or more occupants required a licence.
If landlords do not apply for a licence by October 1, they will be committing an offence and will be open to enforcement action.
The new regulations introduce a statutory standard regarding minimum bedroom sizes. The regulations also require landlords to provide adequate facilities for storing refuse and recycling.
Licence holders must also ensure fire risks are identified and that fire equipment is properly maintained. In particular, landlords have a duty to ensure fire alarm systems are installed, maintained and tested properly.
“These new standards have been anticipated for a while and are being put in place to improve housing conditions and ensure people are living in safe and appropriate accommodation,” explains Cllr Jane Kilby, cabinet member for housing at Chichester District Council.
“We want to make sure that landlords are aware of this new legislation so that they can get their application in to us in plenty of time before October 1.
“Our environmental housing team is happy to answer questions about the new regulations from landlords, agents and tenants.”
Clive Janes of CRJ Lettings in Chichester said: “This appears to be good news for tenants unable to afford Chichester’s high rents who may as a result be forced into shared housing.
“Increasing the standards of these homes is a credible objective but this ‘stick’ approach, which will see many more landlords stung with a (minimum) £854.90 charge every five years plus the additional costs to satisfy the sometimes-restrictive requirements, could see some leave the sector.
“This in turn will reduce supply and increase overall costs to tenants on the bottom rung of the housing ladder.
“I personally would like to see councils use existing powers at their disposal to remove the worst offenders in the system, as these rogues will surely continue to duck the ever-increasing legislation whilst the professional landlords who toe the line will suffer the additional cost, which comes with little direct benefit.”
Landlords can find out more information at: chichester.gov.uk/article/24487/Licensing-of-Houses-in-Multiple-Occupation or call the environmental housing team on 01243 534570.