New powers over HMOs welcomed

Liberal Democrats in Bath are “over the moon” following the government’s announcement of new powers for Councils to control ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMOs). Councillor Shaun McGall and Don Foster MP have been campaigning on this issue for 10 years.

Today’s announcement shows that the government has finally bowed to national public pressure and has given local Councils the much-needed powers to control the spread of high concentrations of shared rented homes. This will allow Councils, such as ours, to tackle pockets of unsafe and substandard accommodation run by bad landlords. Liberal Democrats in the city headed by MP Don Foster had been calling on the Government to speed up action on the subject. Local MP Don Foster said:

I warmly welcome this announcement from the Minister. HMOs play an important role in providing affordable housing, but a dense population can have serious effects on the local community. It is great that the government has finally realised this and changed the law.

This is good for local residents giving control over unregulated profit driven changes to the community. Good for HMO tenants, as it will improve standards and get rid of bad landlords, by providing a mechanism for councils to set up local landlord licensing schemes.

The changes mean that landlords will need to apply for planning permission in order to establish a new HMO with a change of use, for example when the use of a property is altered from a family home to a shared house, with three or more tenants who are not related.

We would like to thank residents from across the city who responded to the Government consultation last year following our campaign.

Councillor Will Sandry added:

This is a victory for communities including families, students, and other adults living in shared, rented housing. Since Shaun was elected in 1999 he has been working hard with Don Foster MP and local residents here in Bath to get planning and housing legislation changed. I’m delighted that Shaun; with the support of our community has been successful in helping to shape national legislation.

The government announcement can be seen here.

A definition of a HMO can be found in the original consultation as follows:

“The Housing Act 2004 introduced a detailed definition of an HMO and excludes certain types of building from the definition for the purposes of licensing. The common factor for all HMOs is that they are all buildings where the living accommodation is occupied by three or more persons who do not form a single household and who share a kitchen, bathroom or toilet.”

The Minister for Housing (John Healey) statement to the House of Commons can be viewed here.

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