Have your say on the future of scheme designed to raise standards in Worcester’s Houses in Multiple Occupation
Worcester City Council is seeking feedback from local people on an existing scheme introduced to help raise standards in the city's Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).
An HMO is a house that has been split into separate living areas so that several different households can live in it.
The council is particularly keen to hear the views from tenants, landlords and residents living near HMOs.
All properties that are home to five or more occupants from different households, and share amenities such as a WC or kitchen, need to be licensed under the terms of the Housing Act 2004.
Since 2015 the licensing requirement has been extended in Worcester to cover smaller HMO properties that house three or more occupants, forming two or more households, and also to some converted buildings.
"Standards in HMOs can often be lower than other rented properties due to poor conversions of older buildings, regular changes in occupiers and poor management by the landlord," says Councillor James Stanley, Chair of the Communities Committee.
"The affordability of this type of accommodation makes it an attractive option for students, new professionals and vulnerable people. The aim of licensing is to ensure that HMOs are properly managed and provide good standards which address the health, safety and welfare of tenants and others in the vicinity."
Since the extension of the HMO licensing scheme in Worcester, 527 properties have made improvements in fire safety measures, 124 properties have made improvements to amenities standards and 148 properties have made improvement to provide adequate heating and ventilation. These properties are required to submit copies of their safety certificates for gas, electricity, fire alarms and emergency lighting and also to ensure that these are all kept well maintained.
Landlords are obliged to keep the property – including the gardens – in a good state of repair and to work with local organisations to help reduce anti-social behaviour from tenants.
The current Worcester City Additional Licensing Scheme will expire on 31 August 2020 and the Council is now seeking feedback from local people to help determine whether to declare it for a further five years.
"Continuing the scheme would help to maintain and raise property and management standards – and ensure that there is a level playing field for all landlords," says Cllr Stanley.
"However we want to be sure that the scheme is working in its current format, so we would welcome a wide range of feedback from local people with experience of owning, renting or living near an HMO."
Your views will help the Council to decide whether to extend the Additional Licensing scheme until 2025.
To have your say, please go to www.worcester.gov.uk/voiceit.
There will also be drop-in sessions at the Guildhall on Friday 20 December 1-5pm and Friday 3 January 9am-1pm when residents get answers to their questions from the Council's housing officers.
The consultation closes on 6 January 2020.