LAs “swamped” by HMO changes: Simple Landlords Insurance

Research from Simple Landlords Insurance describes local authorities as having “no idea” how many unlicensed HMOs are operating within their areas after new regulation came into effect earlier in the year.

The new rules demand that those who rent a single property to five or more people from at least two separate households who share basic facilities, such as a bathroom or kitchen, must ensure that they possess an HMO licence – regardless of how many storeys the property comprises.

However, Simple Landlords Insurance reports that 85 per cent of the 90 LAs it received freedom of information requests from don’t know how many unlicensed HMOs are operating in their area.

Furthermore, the firm’s research shows that 34 per cent have “no idea” how many properties now require a licence, and that over the last 12 months, 103 HMO licences were rejected versus 18,881 granted.

The report also reveals the extent of how much the new regulations are changing the landscape.

In Greenwich, the area with the largest expected increase, before 1 October there were 147 properties that required an HMO licence. That number has since jumped to an estimated 3,250 – growth of 2111 per cent.

Simple Landlords Insurance head of operations Richard Truman comments: “The HMO licensing changes may be well-meaning, but a failure to support LAs to communicate about them and enforce them is bad news – for good landlords and for tenants.

“Traditionally, landlords can be resistant to regulation as it can make daily landlord life more difficult. But many are increasingly seeing the lack of structure and national standards as part of the problem.

“We want to see the emerging class of professional landlords supported by central government and LAs – and that might well mean we need to see more effective regulation and resource.”

In early November, the government announced a £2m funding boost for councils to tackle rogue landlords, with housing minister Heather Wheeler saying: “This funding will help further strengthen councils’ powers to tackle rogue landlords and ensure that poor-quality homes in their area are improved, making the housing market fairer for everyone.”

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