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Improving standards in rented accommodation

A consultation to improve standards in rented accommodation called 'Houses in Multiple Occupation' – HMOs – across Bedford Borough is now underway.

 

In accordance with the Housing Act 2004, a national scheme of mandatory licensing is in operation and the Council currently requires a licence for HMOs of 3 or more floors, with 5 or more occupants and with shared amenities, such as bathrooms. These properties are classed as ‘high risk’. The Council will shortly be consulting to extend the Houses in Multiple Occupation Licence to include properties with fewer floors and occupiers. The consultation will last for 10 weeks and closes on 10th December 2012.

 

The current scheme has been successful as it has resulted in an overall improvement in the safety of rented accommodation in Bedford for tenants, some of whom are among the most vulnerable in the borough.  This is because landlords must comply with minimum standards for fire and gas safety, repair and management.  Checks also have to be made before the licence is issued to ensure that landlords are also ‘fit and proper’ to run the property; they don’t have a history of non compliance or illegal evictions, for example.  Operating an unlicensed HMO is an offence that carries, on conviction, a fine of up to £20,000.

 

The Council will be consulting on proposals to extend the mandatory HMO licensing to other shared houses or flats, such as those occupied by students or professional people, bedsits or houses rented out in rooms, hostels, houses shared by a residential landlord with 'lodgers' and certain houses converted into flats before 1991.

 

It is believed that more than a third of homes with multiple occupiers do not meet compliant levels of standards and safety. Similar schemes in other parts of the country have led to significant improvements in the standard and management of such properties.

 

Councillor Sarah-Jayne Holland, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “The Council’s first priority is the safety of its residents and an important element of that responsibility is to ensure homes in the borough are safe and of an acceptable standard.

 

“The consultation runs for 10 weeks and I urge anyone interested to have their say before 10th December 2012.”

 

A report following the consultation is expected to be presented to the Council’s Executive in January 2013.

 

Visit the consultation webpage

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