Bristol City Council’s Cabinet has now approved the two new schemes which were subject to a consultation last year. The two new schemes will come into force on Tuesday 6 August 2024. These are a citywide additional House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing scheme, and a new selective licensing scheme (which covers most other types of privately rented properties) in three wards – Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham and Easton.
This means that all HMOs within the Bristol City Council boundary, and most other types of privately rented properties in Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham and Easton wards, will need a licence from Tuesday 6 August 2024. The schemes will be in operation for five years and each property will be inspected at least once during the lifetime of the scheme to ensure that they meet licensing standards.
Landlords and agents will have up to three months from the start date to submit their licensing applications (until 5 November 2024) together with the part 1 fee.
An HMO is a rented property where three or more persons who are not related, occupy the accommodation and share some facilities such as a bathroom and/or kitchen.
HMOs that are already licensed under existing additional licensing schemes whose licence will expire while the new scheme is in force, will need to be re-licensed when the current licence expires.
HMOs which are occupied by five or more persons will still be required to be licensed under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme and not under the citywide additional scheme.
It is a legal requirement for landlords to make a licence application for each property that they let that is covered by licensing schemes. Failure to do so could result in formal enforcement action as set out below.
Under the Housing Act 2004, a person commits an offence if they control or manage a house/HMO which is required to be licensed but is not. This could result in prosecution and an unlimited fine.
Other consequences of operating an unlicensed property are; rent repayment orders, not being able to end a tenancy while the property is unlicensed, or the local authority taking over the management of your property.
Under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 local authorities are permitted to impose a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution for a range of offences under the Housing Act 2004. This includes the offences outlined above in relation to the licensing of houses.
Further details on how to make a licence application will be sent just before the scheme goes live, and the system will not accept an application before that date.
For more information on property licensing please visit Bristol City Councils licensing web pages https://www.bristol.gov.uk/business/licences-and-permits/property-licences
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