Bedford Borough Council is taking steps to tackle unlicensed shared houses – or ‘Houses in Multiple Occupation’ (HMOs) across the Borough.
It is targeting any remaining unlicensed HMOs, or shared houses and will seek to prosecute or issue Civil Penalty Notices of up to £30,000 per offence on non-compliant owners who have failed to either apply for a licence or have failed to be granted one due to not meeting the Council’s minimum standards.
The Council has an Additional Licensing Scheme in place, which means that any property with three or more unrelated people living there who are sharing facilities qualifies as an HMO.
This means they have to be licensed, and meet certain standards around safety.
The legal minimum for requiring a licence nationally is five or more unrelated people living in one property to have this licence. With the lower threshold, the local additional scheme captures more shared houses and helps to ensure that people are living in good quality housing.
Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Regulatory Services and Housing says, “Bedford Borough Council works to tackle rogue landlords and this includes those that fail to licence their HMOs in accordance with the legal requirements.
“This project will focus specific resources on ensuring all HMOs in the borough are licensed which will help raise standards and protect the individuals who live in these homes.
“Therefore, I urge anyone who thinks that their property may be an HMO to come forward and contact the Council to initiate the licensing process and avoid a possible fine or prosecution.”
This project follows a successful bid to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government by Bedford Borough Council, and is set to run until the end of March 2020.