London’s Westminster council - with 43 per cent of housing stock in the private rental sector - has launched a consultation on an HMO additional licensing scheme.
The proposed scheme will focus on 9,000-plus properties in the City of Westminster where private renters live in multi-occupant homes. Under current national laws, the council can only license 300 of these.
The authority claims a recent study found 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 council says the new scheme will be hauling up standards and supporting residents.”
A spokeswoman for the council says: “The safety and livelihood of our residents and communities is always at the peak of priorities for the council, and now more than ever, ensuring that Westminster has a high-quality provision of housing in the private rented sector is imperative.
“With this additional licensing scheme for homes of multiple occupancies, we will be able to significantly increase our reach over this specific part of the sector, driving up standards across the board and ensuring that private tenants in the area are living in shared properties that are well managed and maintained and, most importantly, and safe and secure.”
The City of Westminster is home to the largest private rented sector in England with an estimated 52,700 properties.
Proposals to consult on an additional HMO licensing scheme were - in the words of the council itself - “widely supported by respondents to the ongoing private rented sector consultation in Autumn 2020, with almost 70 per cent in agreement.”
The council is now asking for feedback and input on the proposed additional policy before a decision is made on whether to implement in the new year.