How new forms of licensing introduced by Nottingham City Council could make housing better in Nottingham and what we should look out for:
What exists now?
Nottingham City Council (NCC) already license certain properties within Nottingham. If your house is for 5 or more people (unrelated) over 3 floors it must have an HMO license (Check the HMO Register for your house).
In 2014 Additional licensing was introduced for properties in designated areas which housed 3 or more unrelated people. There is currently no requirement for any properties with less than 3 people to have a license unless it is in the additional licensing area..
What are the Council proposing?
NCC are consulting between January and 31st March 2017 to establish whether they can introduce selective licensing provision in Nottingham. Under the new scheme the Council suggests that many more private rented properties would be covered by the licensing scheme including properties with less than 3 people.
Will this benefit students?
Yes. Licensed properties should meet certain standards to make them legally compliant and safe. The Selective Licensing Scheme proposals would require landlords to provide the relevant certification and undertake training. If a property is licensed it should meet the standards and limit the risk of unsafe or dangerous buildings and installations.
What are the benefits of the scheme and the improvements that would make this scheme even better?
While we support the overall step towards selective licensing because of the benefits outlined below, we should be made aware of how the scheme could be even better.
- Students can have more confidence in renting legally safe and compliant houses in Nottingham.
- Licensing requires the property to ensure fundamental basic standards including safe gas and electrics, fire safety, suitable room sizes, and adequate provision of kitchens and bathrooms for the number of occupants.
- This scheme allows for more resources for the licensing team, who will be able to visit more properties to inspect that they do meet the standard.
- More training can be provided to landlords with these resources to ensure that they have a greater understanding of the standards and can implement improvements where necessary.
The proposed license conditions have the potential to tackle rogue landlord behaviour and lay the groundwork for a robust and improved private rented sector in Nottingham. This will benefit all private rented tenants in Nottingham city including the most vulnerable.
How the scheme could be even better:
- While additional resources become available, the Council has noted it will be unable to inspect all properties applying for a license. We ask that all applicants are subject to inspection – rather than determine an inspection only where the risk assessment would require it. There is a benefit to the Council being able to evidence that they would inspect a proportion of all the landlord/agent properties rather than assessing based on the form and type of applicant. Complaints may not be on record where tenants fear eviction and cannot afford to move; which limits the opportunity to risk assess. We would ask for the fee structure to be reviewed and to consider whether the price point can be lowered or introduce a sliding scale depending on property value/bedrooms. We acknowledge that high fees may mean an increase in the rent charged, which would be a considerable worry for tenants.
- We would question that the current accreditation schemes and the management and monitoring of complaints and property and management standards would warrant a discount. Is the Dash code training enough grounds for a considerable discount?
The Students Union has confirmed our support of licensing – you can have your say here