Cheshire East HMO Regulations Adapted

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Licensing fees paid by landlords who operate houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have been revised for the Cheshire East area.

The move aims to help ensure better living conditions and management standards. Previously the fee for a HMO licence in the area was £575 for a period of up to five years regardless of the size of the property.

The fees have now been adapted to a scale, ranging from £430 for an initial licence for smaller HMOs to £760 for a renewal licence of up to five years for the larger properties. The new fees have been instated ahead of changes to government legislation which come into effect in October 2018.

Member for housing, planning and regeneration, Councillor Ainsley Arnold said: ‘Poor housing can impact on a person’s mental and physical health and mandatory licensing will be key in ensuring that landlords provide good quality, safe accommodation that is well managed. In Cheshire East, there are an estimated 600-650 HMOs and 51 meet the current definition for a mandatory licence. However, from October, it’s estimated that around 500 will require one. To make sure we can respond to the significant increase in HMOs needing a licence and safeguard those living in them, we have strengthened our resources and created additional posts. The licence fees and charges have also been reviewed to ensure that the full cost of processing an application, which varies according to the size of the HMO, is passed to the landlord as a valid cost of operating their business.’

Currently a HMO must be licensed if there are five or more occupants in the property living in two or more separate households but sharing amenities. The property must also be three storeys or more. However, this is set to change in October when the three-storey part of the criteria is removed. Councils will also be able to enforce conditions regulating the size and use of the rooms. Operating without a licence is a criminal offence with landlords susceptible to an unlimited fine if they do not comply.

Councillor Arnold continued: ‘Unfortunately there are a minority of irresponsible landlords who are providing unsafe and poorly managed accommodation that falls well short of the standards we expect in Cheshire East. By putting in place a shorter initial licence period, it will give the council greater control and improved engagement with landlords to help ensure residents are safeguarded and that other issues such as waste management can be correctly addressed.’