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Additional Licensing Scheme approved to improve conditions for HMOs

Published: 2 June 2021

The Additional Licensing Scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) has been approved by Westminster City Council and will come into effect at the end of August, following a consultation held by the council earlier this year.

The Additional Licensing Scheme for HMOs will focus on the 9000+ properties in the City of Westminster where private renters live in multi-occupant homes – including house and flat shares, bedsits, and some buildings converted into flats. Smaller house and flat shares will now require a licence if they are occupied by three or more people forming more than one household.

The scheme, which is part of the council’s wider private rented sector strategy, will be introduced on August 30 and will cover the whole of Westminster. Its main aim is to enforce higher standards and to protect private renters in HMOs across the city. It will apply to both new and existing tenancies, including people sharing under one tenancy.

A consultation on the Additional Licensing Scheme was held earlier this year, and the scheme was approved at Westminster City Council’s full council meeting.

A recent study found that poor housing standards are far more likely to be found in the HMO sector, with the council having to make 25,341 interventions between 2016 and 2018. The new policy will set a common standard for landlords across the borough, raising housing standards and supporting residents.

The main aims of the licensing scheme include:

  • increasing housing standards for HMOs across the city, providing clear minimum standards for properties and selectively targeting interventions at the worst properties affected by poor tenancy management, the need for repairs, fire safety hazard, and anti-social behaviour
  • protecting private rented tenants from the negative social and health effects of poorly managed and maintained properties, and reducing inequality of housing.
  • creating sustainable private rented sector tenancies that are attractive to good tenants.
  • making Westminster a safer and more desirable place to live by reducing instances of poor tenancy management.

Applications will be accepted on Westminster City Council’s website from 30 May in advance of the scheme’s start date on 30 August. Operating a HMO without a licence and failing to comply with licensing conditions can lead to fines up to £30,000 or prosecution.

Cllr Heather Acton, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Communities and Regeneration, said:

We want to ensure our residents and communities are living in the highest standards possible in Westminster. The Additional Licensing Scheme gives us a greater ability to monitor and regulate this specific part of the housing sector.

The scheme puts the safety of our residents first, protecting private rented tenants living in shared properties from poorly managed and badly maintained housing. This helps Westminster have good accommodation so that it is a diverse and desirable place where people want to live. It will help the sector create sustainable tenancies with empowered tenants and reputable landlords.

 

Find out more about the new additional licensing scheme and HMOs here: Houses in multiple occupation (HMO) | Westminster City Council