The RLA has opposed plans put forward by Cardiff Council to renew an additional HMO licensing scheme in the city.
Cardiff Council is proposing to renew an additional licensing scheme in the ward of Plasnewydd.
Additional HMO licensing applies to HMOs which are not subject to mandatory HMO licensing but which are of a description designated for HMO licensing by the local authority.
If a landlord has a property that falls into the scope of additional licensing, then they are required to obtain a licence from the council in order to legally rent their property out.
Cardiff Council say they want to renew the additional licensing scheme in Plasnewydd for a futher 5 years, in order to “build upon the positive improvements already achieved and further improve and maintain the quality of smaller HMOs and safety and security of tenants”.
However, the RLA has opposed the plans.
RLA’s response to the consultation
In the RLA’s response to this consultation, there are several reasons why the association has opposed plans to renew this scheme.
The first reason relates to the nature of the consultation process itself. This includes:
- Problems in accessing necessary consultation documents, including no link to the consultation document itself on the live consultation page.
- Best practice guidelines from both the UK Government and the National Assembly for Wales recommends that for a consultation of this importance, a minimum period of twelve weeks would be required with additional time considered should the consultation period fall over public holidays. However, this consultation was only open for seven weeks, with the Christmas and New Year break in the middle.
Criminal landlords will simply ignore the scheme
The council is proposing to charge landlords between £475 and £550 per property to obtain an additional HMO licence. The RLA is concerned that landlords would likely pass this cost on to tenants in the form of increased rents to cover the cost of applying for a licence-doing nothing to address affordability. Meanwhile the minority of criminal operators will simply ignore the scheme, as they do other regulations.
In addition to this, in the consultation response the RLA has also warned that the focus of the staff becomes the processing and issue of licences, with prosecutions centering on whether a property is licenced or is not.
Questions over effectiveness of the current additional licensing scheme
The consultation document states that:
“Currently 37% of the additional properties are confirmed as being up to standard, including those that were complaint on the application and those as a result of the licensing process.
“Additional levels of security are required for properties licensing under the Scheme, which has resulted in 521 notices being served in relation to security since the Scheme was implemented, 17% of which have been confirmed as complied”.
In our consultation response, we have warned that this raises questions over the claims that the Scheme has been successful. Although several properties have seen their standards being in line with what is required, due to the licensing process, when it is only a little over a third of the additional properties, this reads like more of a failing policy given than 37% includes properties that were up to standard before the application stage – and well over half of the properties remain uncompliant.
Have your say in this consultation
This consultation is running until 14th February, and the RLA is urging landlords to respond and make their views heard.
You can read the RLA’s full response to this consultation here.