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Licence fees for 'Houses in Multiple Occupation' to rise by 210 per cent.
11:59am Tuesday 13th August 2013 in News
Landlords in Falmouth, or the people who rent from them, will have to dig deeper into their pockets from October as Cornwall Council hikes licence fees for owners of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) by 210 per cent.
The cost of a local authority five year House in Multiple Occupation licence is set to rise from October 14 to "reflect the true cost of delivering the service", says Cornwall Council.
Some Houses in Multiple Occupation, those with three or more storeys which house five or more unrelated occupiers who share a bathroom and/or kitchen, must be licensed by the Local Authority to operate lawfully.
Before a licence is issued, usually for a period of five years, the Council carries out a thorough assessment to ensure that:
• The applicants are fit and proper people to hold the licence. That that they have not been found guilty of any offences relevant to managing rented accommodation or any other serious criminal offence.
• the HMO is suitable for occupation by the number of persons requested in the licence application. ie. that the room sizes and provision of amenity is adequate.
• Fixed installation such as the gas, electric and fire precautions have been checked periodically and passed as safe to operate
• That arrangements for the day to day management of the property are adequate.
The council says that larger shared properties are known to pose the greatest risk of harm to tenants from hazards such as fire and that the licensing process "applies controls to the standards in these properties to ensure risks to the occupiers, in particular from fire, are kept as low as possible".
The cost of the 5 year HMO licence in Cornwall is set to increase from £157.50 to £490 for a new HMO licence application. Where a licence application is only made following investigation and tracing activity by the Council then the fee will be £650. On expiry, normally after 5 years, the cost to re-licence will be set at £365.
Members of approved Landlord Accreditation Schemes will be entitled to discounted rates of £420 for a new HMO licence application and £310 for relicensing in recognition of their willingness to build on and improve their competency as a landlord..
New applicants can get in touch with the council and apply for a licence at the current fee level before the fee change in October.
A council spokesman said HMO’s play a "vital role" in meeting the housing needs of the residents of Cornwall, with the 221 HMOs currently licensed by the Council providing a home to more than 1,200 households.
Adding: "However, it is recognised nationally that standards in this type of accommodation are often very poor and therefore the correct and thorough application of the HMO licensing process is extremely important."
Cornwall Council’s Cabinet member for Homes and Communities Geoff Brown said: “It is very important that all shared accommodation in Cornwall is up to standard and not in such condition that it puts tenants’ health, safety and wellbeing in jeopardy. Even more important is the thorough and effective licensing of the larger shared houses subject to mandatory HMO licensing.
“To achieve this a realistic fee level must be set to reflect the true cost of delivering this important service. I would encourage all owners and managers of large HMOs to check again to see if their property requires a licence and if in any doubt contact the HMO team to seek further advice.”
Falmouth has the largest share of HMO's in Cornwall, by a large margin.
To view the register of licensed HMOs in Cornwall visit www.cornwall.gov.uk/default.aspx?page=31097.
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