Cheshire East has seen changes to licencing fees paid by landlords, brought about by new regulations. Landlords who let houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) will face new fees, replacing the fixed fee that used to be in place.
This fixed fee was set at £575, lasting for a period of up to five years. Now, however, there will be a scale of fees and charges in place. They will range from £430 for an initial licence for smaller HMOs, up to £760 to renew a licence for up to five years for the largest HMOs.
The fee has been revised in anticipation of government changes to legislation regarding HMOs, which will come into effect this October, allowing a closer scrutinisation of the properties by councils.
As it currently stands, the correct licence must be obtained for a HMO that has five or more occupants, living in two or more separate households, and sharing amenities such as a kitchen, bathroom or toilet. It applies to buildings that are three or more storeys.
In October, it will no longer take into consideration how many storeys s property is. Councils will also be able to enforce mandatory conditions in order for landlords to let such properties, specifically looking at the size of bedrooms in comparison to how many are sleeping in them, along with their age. There will also be rules around waste management.
If a HMO landlord does let without the appropriate licence, they could receive an unlimited fine. In the situation where they are found to have gone against these enforcements, they could receive a civil penalty of up to £30,000 and a banning order.
HMO Licencing Fees for Landlords Revised in Cheshire East
Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for housing, planning and regeneration, has said: “Poor housing can impact on a person’s mental and physical health and mandatory licencing will be key in ensuring that landlords provide good quality, safe accommodation that is well managed.
“In Cheshire East, there are an estimated 600-650 HMOs and 51 meet the current definition for a mandatory licence. However, from October, it’s estimated that around 500 will require one.
“To make sure we can respond to the significant increase in HMOs needing a licence and safeguard those living in them, we have strengthened our resources and created additional posts.
“The licence fees and charges have also been reviewed to ensure that the full cost of processing an application, which varies according to the size of the HMO, is passed to the landlord as a valid cost of operating their business.”
A two-year licence is available initially as an incentive for landlords to complete and submit their applications for the licence by 15thAugust.
Councillor Arnold said: “Unfortunately, there are a minority of irresponsible landlords who are providing unsafe and poorly managed accommodation that falls well short of the standards we expect in Cheshire East.
“By putting in place a shorter initial licence period, it will give the council greater control and improved engagement with landlords to help ensure residents are safeguarded and that other issues such as waste management can be correctly addressed.”