Salford City Council is to introduce landlord licensing for shared homes where three or four tenants live (houses in multiple occupation or HMOs.)
The scheme will come into force on July 19 this year, will cover the whole of Salford and will last for five years. Landlords will pay a one-off fee for the licence which can be paid in instalments.
The council estimates more than 27,000 homes are privately rented in the city and in the last five years conversions to HMOs of all sizes in selective licensing areas have risen by 460 per cent in Eccles, 410 per cent in Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley and 196 per cent in Broughton.
Over the last year 90 per cent of three and four bed HMOs inspected fell below the required standard. This is despite the council providing clear information about acceptable standards and offering an HMO advice service.
Salford City Council was the first local authority to introduce landlord licensing in Seedley and Langworthy in 2007 to drive up standards in private rented property. A further six followed and there are two current schemes in parts of: Charlestown and Lower Kersal and Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley.
Strategic Director Place, Peter Openshaw said: “Our inspections found missing or damaged fire doors, inadequate or blocked escape routes and insufficient measures to prevent fire and smoke spreading. Some properties didn’t have fire alarm systems at all, despite that being a legal requirement, while others had systems but they were damaged, putting tenants at risk.
“Over a third of the properties we checked were damp and/or suffering from mould because of leaky roofs or walls and a third had no or inadequate heating. In some cases we had to move tenants out immediately for their own safety.
“Most of the landlords or managing agents carried out improvements and removed the hazards when alerted to them without formal enforcement action but 21 landlords were issued with civil penalties for breaches of HMO management regulations.
“Private sector rented properties now account for 23% of Salford’s private housing stock, up from 11.2% in 2008 so the homes they provide must be safe, warm and well-run.
“As with previous licensing schemes we want to work with landlords to ensure high quality rented properties in Salford but will not hesitate to take firm action against those who leave tenants in unsafe or poor conditions.”
Council officers will now begin contacting landlords and managing agents and information will be posted on the council’s website. After the scheme comes into operation in July landlords will have three months to register unless they already hold a licence for five bedded or larger HMOs or a licence for properties where selective licensing schemes already apply. Landlords who fail to get a licence where required could be fined or issued with a civil penalty notice. The council also has the powers to order the landlord to repay rent to the tenants or to take over management arrangements for the property on an interim or final basis.
To be approved for a licence, landlords and property managers will need to demonstrate they are a ‘fit and proper person’ to let the property and that they have suitable management arrangements in place including annual safety checks and that tenants have bins and know how to properly recycle and dispose of waste.
The licence will also determine the maximum number of occupants to make sure tenants are not living in cramped and overcrowded properties.
If the landlord fails to licence the property or breaches conditions of the licence and fails to remedy the situation the council can issue civil penalty notices or prosecute them.