Bristol City Council is consulting on plans to license Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the city’s 12 central wards, including Bishopston & Ashley Down.
HMOs are houses that are occupied by multiple people from different households, who share facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms.
This may sound like a dry subject, but in Bristol HMOs have generally poorer conditions than other rented accommodation, and so the council wants to bring in licensing to increase standards. This will benefit tenants and neighbours alike, and will reward the majority of landlords who do provide good standards.
Where properties are being managed badly and/or in poor condition this can affect the health, safety and wellbeing of tenants. These poorly managed properties can also lead to anti-social behaviour and cause problems for the people who live in these properties and/or for neighbours, other residents and members of the public.
That’s where licensing comes in -; by licensing the properties Bristol City Council will be able to set standards, and if these standards are not met then enforcement action will be taken.
Currently, HMOs with five or more residents have to be licensed by law, but the council’s proposal is to bring the limit down to three or more residents. This would bring around 6200 properties under the licensing scheme.
Our ward has among the highest number of HMOs in the city, so it makes sense that we are included in the proposal, and I am confident that it will induce a much-needed increase in standards.
Some people are concerned that this will result in higher rents, as landlords pass the cost of the licence to tenants. This is a myth. The licence fee will be roughly £1000 for 5 years, i.e. circa £200 per year per landlord, or £4 per week. I struggle to imagine how any landlord can’t afford that.
ACORN, the tenants’ union, have also started a petition in support of the proposals. It’s no substitute for completing the consultation, but you can take part in the petition here: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/landlord-licensing-now