The London Borough of Lambeth is proposing to make all Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) in the borough subject to additional licensing.
The council recently consulted on HMOs, concluding that “The data currently demonstrates that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that there are significant and persistent problems with the management and standard of HMOs in the London Borough of Lambeth.” Lambeth added that anti-social behaviour rates per 1000 properties are significantly higher in the HMO sector compared to the private rented sector as a whole.
The 2004 Housing Act defines an HMO as: “A dwelling of less than three storeys, provided it is occupied by five or more persons living in two or more separate households.”
34.5% of housing in the borough is currently in the private rented sector. In 2018 Lambeth estimated that there were 1,900 HMO’s in the borough. It has now ‘revised’ this estimation to 5,000 properties.
Councillor Maria Kay, cabinet member for housing and homelessness, has endorsed the plan, which will now go to the council’s full cabinet for a vote.
The scheme, if approved, will see all 5,000 privately rented homes in multiple occupation within its borders brought into licensing, from Streatham in the south to the Thames in the north. Only 590 such HMOs are currently licenced.
Consequently, hundreds of estate agents and thousands of private landlords within the South London borough could now have to licence their properties with three or more unconnected people living in them sharing common facilities such as a bathroom and kitchen. Currently, only properties with five or more unconnected people must be licenced.
The new scheme will see landlords and agents charged £520 per habitable room to licence a house or flat for five years, although discounts are available for landlords who join the council’s accreditation scheme.
Councillor Kay says the scheme will be self-financing, raising – from landlords and agents – approximately £10 million during its first five-years of operation.
Image: Lambeth Bridge, courtesy DeFacto/Creative Commons.