Landlords of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in Camden must have a licence by December 8, in a bid to protect the borough’s 20,000 private renters from unsafe or unhealthy homes.
The term HMO encompasses house shares, converted flats, student homes and bedsits, so the changes will apply to a large proportion of landlords in the student-rich borough. So if your property is rented to three or more people (including children) who form more than one household it counts as an HMO.
A couple and a friend, or a single-parent family and additional tenant would both qualify as HMOs and the tenancy agreement and size of the property make no difference to this classification.
The licensing scheme will include property inspections and advice for landlords on any improvements they need to make to their property.
Unlicenced landlords will risk fines and may have to pay rent refunds.
The additional licence for Camden has been introduced in addition to the existing mandatory licence for HMO landlords, which applies nationally, and will cost £450 for a five-year licence, as well as £45 per unit (bedroom, bedsit, etc).
The measure was introduced in response to inspections of rental properties by Camden council, which found health and safety issues, fire hazards, poor security and mould and damp-causing excess cold.
Councillor Patricia Callaghan, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “We face a housing crisis in Camden and need initiatives like licensing to help us tackle it. Good quality and safe housing impacts residents’ quality of life and that’s why it’s so important that we’re introducing this.
“Everyone has a right to good quality housing, and often private renters are forced to live in the worst conditions. The Council’s working to change this as part of our commitment to making Camden a place for everyone.
“Residents called for us to do more to improve standards and we had overwhelming support for the proposals from our consultation.
''We understand that there are good landlords. Our scheme aims to assist them and enable other landlords to run better businesses and provide a higher quality service.”
To apply for a licence go to camden.gov.uk/hmolicensing or call 020 7974 5969 for more information