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Additional Licensing of HMOs - Public Notice

Worcester City Council has two Additional Licensing Schemes

Scheme 1:

On 26 May 2020, Worcester City Council, in exercise of its powers under section 56 of the Housing Act 2004 designated five wards in the City of Worcester as subject to Additional Licensing. These wards were: St John, St Clement, Bedwardine, Cathedral and Arboretum. The Designation came into force on 1 September 2020 and will last for 5 years, until 31 August 2025.

Scheme 2:

On 6 June 2023, Worcester City Council, in exercise of its powers under section 56 of the Housing Act 2004 designated the wards: Battenhall, Claines, Gorse Hill, Nunnery, Rainbow Hill, St Peters, St Stephens, Warndon, Warndon Parish North, Warndon Parish South in the City of Worcester as subject to Additional Licensing. The designation will come into force on 6 September 2023 and will last until 31st August 2025.

What is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO)?

HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) is a housing classification, for a house (or flat) with three or more tenants, forming two or more households. For example, a two-bed flat with a couple in one room and an unrelated friend in the other would be an HMO.

Commonly used terms and concepts surrounding HMOs

  • Mandatory Licensing – As the name suggests, this is mandatory legislation that covers HMOs with 5 or more people sharing facilities. This is regulated under the Housing Act 2004 and has been in force since 2006.
  • Additional Licensing – Additional Licensing operates in the same way and alongside the existing Mandatory Licensing scheme. However, while Mandatory licensing is for HMO with 5 or more people, Additional Licensing applies to all other HMOs including section 257 HMO in the five wards of Arboretum, Bedwardine, Cathedral, St John’s, and St Clement’s. The same process will be followed, with the same legal obligations and penalties for failing to comply with the requirements. On September xx 2023, the additional licencing scheme will be extended to cover all of Worcester City
  • Planning Permission – Article 4 – From 1 July 2014, planning permission is required to convert a single-family house into all other smaller HMOs (not covered by the existing sui generis use classification) in Worcester City. So, if you currently rent your two-bed flat to a couple with a child, they move out and you wish to rent it to a couple and an unrelated friend, you will need to apply for planning permission before the three people occupy the property.
  • Licensing AND Planning permission– Based on the information above HMOs in Worcester City will be subject to Licensing AND require Planning permission. The type of licence or type of planning permission is dependent on the size of the HMO (as broken down above).
  • Main residence -In order to be an HMO, the property must be used as the tenants' only or main residence. Properties let to students and migrant workers will be treated as their only or main residence and the same will apply to properties that are used as domestic refuges.

What is a Section 257 HMO?

Section 257 of the Housing Act 2004 relates to a ‘converted block of flats' which is a building (or part of a building) which has been converted into, and consists of, self-contained flats. Buildings of this description are HMOs if:

  • the conversion work was not done in accordance with 'appropriate building standards' and
  • less than two-thirds of the self-contained flats are owner-occupied.

‘Appropriate building standards' usually means the 1991 Building Regulations or whichever later Building Regulations applied at the time the work was done.

I think my property is an HMO what does this mean?

HMOs will be subject to licensing will need either a mandatory licence or an additional licence. Any unlicenced HMO found by the Council will be subject to a fee in addition to the cost of the HMO Licence and any additional enforcement notices.

Landlords and managing agents will need to apply for a licence under the additional licensing scheme to run a property as a HMO if:

  • The property is occupied by three or more people and
  • The tenants form two or more households and
  • The property is in the Arboretum, Bedwardine, Cathedral, St Clements or St Johns wards of Worcester, or in any wards of Worcester City from the 1st September 2023.

Although the Council is aware of many of the HMOs to which this scheme applies, it is not the responsibility of Worcester City Council to prompt or remind you to apply for a licence.  The responsibility lies with the owner or the managing agent, who is usually the person having control of the property (receives the rent for the property).

The Private Sector Housing Team offers a pre application advice visit which can provide owners of advice of whether the property is suitable to become a HMO or what works will be required. This can be undertaken before the property is tenanted or when the current licenced HMO owner is considering additional works. There is a charge of £60 for this service.

Type of Licence

What type of HMO does the licence cover?

What do I do now?

HMO Mandatory Licence

Five or more occupants

Please submit an online application

HMO Additional Licence

All other types of HMO

Please submit an online application (you must submit a separate application for each property).

Licence Renewal

All types of HMO

  • A licence lasts up to five years and will need to be renewed
  • The Private Sector Housing Team will automatically contact licence holders 6 weeks before the current licence expires. If the licence holder has not heard from the Team by then please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How much will a licence cost?

Please view our City Life Letting and Private Sector Housing Fees 2023/24

When should I apply?

If you are a landlord or managing agent operating a HMO property within Worcester City, and do not already hold a mandatory HMO licence, you will need to apply for an additional licence. (We are happy to take applications prior to the 1st September 2023 for landlords or managing agents with properties in the wards that will be operating additional licencing ) It is an offence under Section 72 of the Housing Act 2004, if a person having control of, or managing a HMO operates a licensable HMO which is required to be licensed under the Additional or Mandatory Licensing Scheme, but which is not so licensed. The maximum fine if prosecuted is now unlimited or there is a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000.

How long will Additional Licensing last and how long will my licence last for?

The current Additional Licensing scheme will last for 5 years, until 2025. Your licence can be issued for up to 5 years (or until 2025), and licences will continue to be issued until the end of the scheme.

Why has an Additional Licensing been introduced?

The Council introduced an Additional Licensing scheme in Worcester to:

  • Ensure that these HMOs are managed properly
  • Improve neighbourhoods
  • Reduce complaints of noise, rubbish, housing disrepair and other anti-social behaviour related to HMOs
  • Continue to improve the HMO private rented sector
  • Ensure the licence holder and manager are ‘fit and proper'
  • Ensure fundamental basic standards of accommodation are provided including safe gas and electrical appliances, fire safety precautions, suitable room sizes and adequate provision of kitchens and bathrooms for the number of occupants
  • Assist in identifying and dealing with rogue landlords

National Minimum Room Sizes

From 1 October 2018, all new and renewed licences will be subject to national minimum sleeping room sizes. These are:

From 1 October 2018, all new and renewed licences will be subject to national minimum sleeping room sizes. These are:

Occupancy

Minimum permitted room size

One child under 10 years of age

4.64m²

One person over 10 years of age

6.51m²

Two people over 10 years of age

10.22m²

Please note that these are the national minimum room sizes, and the local authority will continue to have the discretion to set their own higher standards but cannot allow smaller sizes than these. The Worcester City Council Standards Conditions and Management document details minimum sleeping room sizes for those HMOs which do not have a communal lounge or dining area.  

These minimum room requirements will be added to all new licences (and existing licences upon renewal) as a mandatory condition.

Requirement to provide waste disposal facilities

There will be a further mandatory condition added to all licences requiring that the landlord complies with the Council’s storage and waste disposal scheme.

  • Storage and Waste Disposal Scheme - Website

Responsibilities

If you think your property is a HMO then you will have responsibilities as the landlord or agent, and the property will also have to meet certain requirements.

The Government has prescribed certain standards that must be met in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are licensable under Section 67 of the Housing Act 2004. These prescribed standards are for deciding the suitability for the occupation of an HMO by a particular maximum number of households or persons. The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 and The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and other Houses (Additional Provisions) (England) Regulations 2007 apply.

A licence to operate an HMO at the property is granted subject to compliance with the conditions described above and the Worcester City Standards, Conditions and Management & HMO Licence Conditions

The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 apply to any HMO (regardless of whether a licence is required) and landlords must still ensure that they:

  • Clearly display in a prominent position the landlord's name, address, and telephone number contact details in the property.
  • Ensure all firefighting equipment and fire alarms are serviced and maintained in good working order.
  • Ensure that the fire escape is kept free from obstruction and is in a good state of repair.
  • Undertake measures to protect the occupier of the HMO from injury with regard to the HMO design, structure conditions and number of occupiers. This would include the provision of mains wired smoke detectors, self-closing fire doors, provision of a suitable fire escape route, ensuring roof coverings are safe, any low-level windowsills have bars or window restrictors.
  • To maintain water supply and drainage.
  • To supply and maintain gas and electricity. Gas Safe certificates to be undertaken annually.
  • To maintain common parts, fixtures, fittings, and appliances. Including for example banisters, handrails, stair coverings, windows, light fittings, gardens, outbuildings, boundary fences.

In addition, all privately rented properties, including HMOs, require a valid electrical safety certificate to be undertaken at least every 5 years and a valid EPC of grade E or above at the start of the tenancy.

 

What if I don't inform you of my HMO or comply with the HMO regulations?

Worcester City Council has a duty and variety of powers to ensure HMOs are manged correctly and compliantly. These range from the service of a formal notice requiring improvements, issuing penalty notices to taking control of the building. Please contact the Private Sector Housing Team on 01905 722288 to discus your case.

If I am a tenant, how will licensing affect me?

Licensing will help ensure that tenants are provided with the fundamental basic standards of accommodation, which include safe gas and electrical appliances, fire safety precautions, suitable room sizes, and adequate provision of kitchens and bathrooms for the number of occupants. Additional Licensing also requires that the HMO is maintained so that it does not have a negative impact on the local neighbourhood, and that the landlord takes reasonable steps to deal with any anti-social behaviour by the occupants.

Landlords and managing agents who own or manage a licensable HMO have a legal obligation to hold a licence and ensure they comply with the conditions. Those not meeting the basic requirements may need to make improvements to the property to bring them up to standard. Landlords failing to do so may incur penalties and could be prosecuted.

Reporting Suspected Unlicensed HMOs

Please use our report a suspected unlicensed HMO form to report a suspected HMO to Worcester City Council for investigation.

Further Information

How to contact us

If you cannot find the information you are looking for, or if you need further advice, please contact the Private Sector Housing team.

  • Tel:01905 722288
  • Email:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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