Monday, September 25, 2006

More problems with HMO licensing

It looks as if the additional administration associated with HMOs is putting landlords off landlording. A survey by RICS, reported here finds that landlords are either selling up or are just letting to three or less people, in order to avoid licensing.

Which would mean that although licensing is cutting down on rogue landlords, this is at the expense of having less properties available for rent. The groups most affected are students, particularly in London, and immigrants, who make up a large percentage of the HMO market.

There are several knock on effects. One will probably be that the trend for students to stay at home (started by the loss of grant income and imposition of course fees) will increase. Another is that there will be even more pressure on local authorities to find accommodation for those vulnerable members of society in priority need.

Many landlords are also deeply angry at the lack of consistency in the way local authorities are treating HMO licensing, particularly the enormous variation in the fees (for example see my HMO license fee list), and the standards imposed, recently commented on in an article in the Observer. For example the variation in the interpretation of the regulations which apparently require larger HMOs to have a wash hand basin in every unit of living accommodation. And indeed the fact that this requirement, which if interpreted strictly will result in enormous expense being incurred by many landlords for no apparent good reason, is being imposed in the first place.

It is unfortunate that these well meaning regulations, may turn out to have a negative effect, in that much needed accommodation will no longer be available to those who most need it.

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