Home Council's HMO officers blunder trying to licence the wrong homes

Council's HMO officers blunder trying to licence the wrong homes

Press Release: April 07, 2010

According to research by the Communities and Local Government Department (CLG).

The council officers tried to licence all HMOs in their area that were defined as shared housing under the Housing Act 2004 - but forgot to leave out the properties that were not subject to mandatory licensing.

Since April 6, 2006, these officers have dealt with 70 licensing applications and issued 40 licences but their council area had hundreds more HMO properties that did not need licensing.

A CLG impact assessment on new shared housing planning and licensing regulations that start from April 6, 2010, shows the whole HMO sector in England is in a shambles with few councils aware of exactly how many properties in their area require mandatory licensing.

Three surveys of local councils in three successive years show different figures:

A survey of councils in 2008 found that the councils thought that the market sector contained about 38,000 licensable HMOs and the estimated number of licensable HMOs for all authorities in England was around 56,000.

Communities and Local Government surveyed councils in 2006 and estimated that there are around 42,000 licensable HMOs in England.

One council officer directly responsible for HMO licensing told the CLG when asked how many shared houses needing licences were in the area: "In total, well, taking into consideration additional and self contained flats, it's really hard for me to give a figure, but I can only say over 1,500."

The council's housing survey statistics return suggested that there are over 2,000 HMOs in the borough.

The licensing blunder is one of a series of shambolic council errors uncovered by Property Investment Expert editor Steve Sims when researching a new download guide about new HMO licensing and planning rules that is available from http://www.property-investment-expert.com/hmo-planning-licensing-guide-april-2010/

"The information revealed in the CLG research shows many local councils haven't got a clue what they are doing when licensing shared rented houses, " said Steve Sims. "My fear is that they will make even more mistakes that someone else has to pick up the tab for, like the taxpayer or property investors, with the more complicated new planning and licensing rules.

Information about HMOs and how councils have tackled licensing prior to the new regime that started on April 6, 2010, is detailed in a document called Evaluation of the Impact of HMO Licensing and Selective Licensing that is free to download from the CLG web site."

Notes to editors

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