Proposals to introduce new property licensing schemes in Bristol

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What we are proposing

Bristol City Council is seeking your views on proposals to introduce two new property licensing schemes for privately rented housing.


Scheme 1

A citywide additional licensing scheme where most Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) not already subject to mandatory licensing will need a licence.


Scheme 2

A selective licensing scheme in Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham and Easton wards where most other types of privately rented accommodation in these areas will need a licence.

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to require landlords of some privately rented accommodation to license their properties. Licensing can be applied to specific areas of the city where evidence suggests there is poor quality private rented housing.

We already operate the national mandatory licensing of larger HMOs, which targets privately rented properties with five or more unrelated people living together and sharing some facilities including kitchens and bathrooms.

Under this Act the local authority also has the powers to introduce two other types of property licensing – additional licensing for smaller HMOs where only three or four people are sharing, or selective licensing for other types of privately rented accommodation including properties rented to individuals, couples, or families.

The recently published report National statistics: English Housing Survey 2021 to 2022: private rented sector (bit.ly/3QB1gL6) found:

  • 14% of private rented sector homes, or 615,000 occupied dwellings, are estimated to contain a Category 1 hazard (bit.ly/3DCrfKo). This is higher than for social rented (4%) or owner occupied (10%) homes.
  • Private rented homes were more likely to be non-decent than owner-occupied homes.
  • Private rented homes were more likely to have damp than all other tenures. Almost 11% (465,000 dwellings) of private rented homes had dampness compared with 4% (177,000 dwellings) of social rented homes and 2% (262,000 dwellings) of owner-occupied homes.

Mandatory licensing of larger HMOs, occupied by five or more unrelated people who live together and share some facilities like kitchens or bathrooms, is already in existence nationally, and these HMOs are excluded from this proposal.

Before we can set up these schemes, we must consult with those who may be affected by the changes, including residents, private landlords, agents, and local organisations, to find out what they think.


Fees

The Housing Act 2004 allows councils to set a fee for property licences and says that the council may consider all costs incurred by the authority in carrying out the licensing function. The council cannot make a profit from licence fees.

The council’s predicted operating cost for the additional licensing scheme is £12,516,316.

The council’s predicted operating cost for the selective licensing scheme is £3,532,288.

The fees proposed are for a licence which will normally last for five years and the fee is fixed for the five-year period. There are no other costs or fees to pay.

The fee structure proposed is designed to allow the council to recover the costs of the licensing function.

  • Part 1 covers the average cost of granting or refusing an application. This part of the fee is payable at the time of submitting the application. Applications cannot be accepted without payment.
  • Part 2 covers the enforcement of the licence scheme requirements and general scheme administration costs. It is payable only for licences which are proposed to be granted and is not payable if the licence application is refused.


Who would be affected?

Scheme 1 would apply to most owners of privately rented HMOs citywide who are not already included in the national mandatory licensing scheme. HMOs with additional licences will be required to re-license once their existing licence has expired.

Under scheme 2, most owners of non-HMO privately rented properties in Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham, and Easton wards would have to apply for a property licence. This includes accommodation occupied by single people, couples, and families.

Without a licence, private landlords would not be allowed to rent these properties and may be prosecuted or be given a Civil Penalty Notice (CPN).

We believe that implementing these schemes would benefit tenants, and other residents and businesses in the local area, by raising the standards of private rented accommodation and management.


Who would not be affected?

This proposal relates to additional and selective licensing only. It only applies to privately rented properties so does not include owner occupied properties or social housing.

Some HMOs in these areas are already covered by mandatory licensing (HMOs with five or more persons, in two or more households) and they would also not need an additional licence.

Certain types of buildings or parts of buildings are not HMOs for the purpose of licensing. Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 sets out in detail the properties that are exempt. Section 257 HMOs (bit.ly/3YdzUMO) are not included in this proposal nor those HMOs already licensable under the national mandatory licensing scheme.

Purpose build student accommodation registered with the national accrediting body ANUK is already closely regulated regarding standards so is excluded from this proposal. All other private rented units occupied by students will require a license.


Why have we chosen these areas

Introducing additional and selective licensing schemes in an area can help where a significant number of properties are in poor condition or being poorly managed.

The council commissioned the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to undertake a Housing Stock Modelling Report. The evidence from this report, together with the council’s own records, highlights where to best target property licensing schemes.

The private rented sector (PRS) accounts for an estimated 26.2% of all housing stock in the city. This is above the national average of 19%.

HMOs account for approximately 24% of all privately rented properties. They are in the poorest condition of all housing stock and suffer from issues related to poor management, which not only affect the residents but sometimes the nearby community too. Higher levels of fuel poor households are also more likely to live in this type of accommodation.

In the wards selected for the selective licensing under scheme 2 there are higher than average levels of category 1 and category 2 hazards, poor condition, and disrepair.

Please see the proposal document for more information.


Give us your views

We welcome feedback from people who may be directly affected and other members of the public. The consultation will run until Tuesday 7 November.

The survey is in six sections. Please complete Section A. The last question in Section A will guide you to which other sections are relevant to you.

Click here to complete our survey

If you would like this information in another language, Braille, audio tape, large print, easy read, BSL video or CD-ROM or plain text please contact us by emailing private.housing@bristol.gov.uk or calling 0117 922 4947.

What we are proposing

Bristol City Council is seeking your views on proposals to introduce two new property licensing schemes for privately rented housing.


Scheme 1

A citywide additional licensing scheme where most Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) not already subject to mandatory licensing will need a licence.


Scheme 2

A selective licensing scheme in Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham and Easton wards where most other types of privately rented accommodation in these areas will need a licence.

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to require landlords of some privately rented accommodation to license their properties. Licensing can be applied to specific areas of the city where evidence suggests there is poor quality private rented housing.

We already operate the national mandatory licensing of larger HMOs, which targets privately rented properties with five or more unrelated people living together and sharing some facilities including kitchens and bathrooms.

Under this Act the local authority also has the powers to introduce two other types of property licensing – additional licensing for smaller HMOs where only three or four people are sharing, or selective licensing for other types of privately rented accommodation including properties rented to individuals, couples, or families.

The recently published report National statistics: English Housing Survey 2021 to 2022: private rented sector (bit.ly/3QB1gL6) found:

  • 14% of private rented sector homes, or 615,000 occupied dwellings, are estimated to contain a Category 1 hazard (bit.ly/3DCrfKo). This is higher than for social rented (4%) or owner occupied (10%) homes.
  • Private rented homes were more likely to be non-decent than owner-occupied homes.
  • Private rented homes were more likely to have damp than all other tenures. Almost 11% (465,000 dwellings) of private rented homes had dampness compared with 4% (177,000 dwellings) of social rented homes and 2% (262,000 dwellings) of owner-occupied homes.

Mandatory licensing of larger HMOs, occupied by five or more unrelated people who live together and share some facilities like kitchens or bathrooms, is already in existence nationally, and these HMOs are excluded from this proposal.

Before we can set up these schemes, we must consult with those who may be affected by the changes, including residents, private landlords, agents, and local organisations, to find out what they think.


Fees

The Housing Act 2004 allows councils to set a fee for property licences and says that the council may consider all costs incurred by the authority in carrying out the licensing function. The council cannot make a profit from licence fees.

The council’s predicted operating cost for the additional licensing scheme is £12,516,316.

The council’s predicted operating cost for the selective licensing scheme is £3,532,288.

The fees proposed are for a licence which will normally last for five years and the fee is fixed for the five-year period. There are no other costs or fees to pay.

The fee structure proposed is designed to allow the council to recover the costs of the licensing function.

  • Part 1 covers the average cost of granting or refusing an application. This part of the fee is payable at the time of submitting the application. Applications cannot be accepted without payment.
  • Part 2 covers the enforcement of the licence scheme requirements and general scheme administration costs. It is payable only for licences which are proposed to be granted and is not payable if the licence application is refused.


Who would be affected?

Scheme 1 would apply to most owners of privately rented HMOs citywide who are not already included in the national mandatory licensing scheme. HMOs with additional licences will be required to re-license once their existing licence has expired.

Under scheme 2, most owners of non-HMO privately rented properties in Bishopston and Ashley Down, Cotham, and Easton wards would have to apply for a property licence. This includes accommodation occupied by single people, couples, and families.

Without a licence, private landlords would not be allowed to rent these properties and may be prosecuted or be given a Civil Penalty Notice (CPN).

We believe that implementing these schemes would benefit tenants, and other residents and businesses in the local area, by raising the standards of private rented accommodation and management.


Who would not be affected?

This proposal relates to additional and selective licensing only. It only applies to privately rented properties so does not include owner occupied properties or social housing.

Some HMOs in these areas are already covered by mandatory licensing (HMOs with five or more persons, in two or more households) and they would also not need an additional licence.

Certain types of buildings or parts of buildings are not HMOs for the purpose of licensing. Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 sets out in detail the properties that are exempt. Section 257 HMOs (bit.ly/3YdzUMO) are not included in this proposal nor those HMOs already licensable under the national mandatory licensing scheme.

Purpose build student accommodation registered with the national accrediting body ANUK is already closely regulated regarding standards so is excluded from this proposal. All other private rented units occupied by students will require a license.


Why have we chosen these areas

Introducing additional and selective licensing schemes in an area can help where a significant number of properties are in poor condition or being poorly managed.

The council commissioned the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to undertake a Housing Stock Modelling Report. The evidence from this report, together with the council’s own records, highlights where to best target property licensing schemes.

The private rented sector (PRS) accounts for an estimated 26.2% of all housing stock in the city. This is above the national average of 19%.

HMOs account for approximately 24% of all privately rented properties. They are in the poorest condition of all housing stock and suffer from issues related to poor management, which not only affect the residents but sometimes the nearby community too. Higher levels of fuel poor households are also more likely to live in this type of accommodation.

In the wards selected for the selective licensing under scheme 2 there are higher than average levels of category 1 and category 2 hazards, poor condition, and disrepair.

Please see the proposal document for more information.


Give us your views

We welcome feedback from people who may be directly affected and other members of the public. The consultation will run until Tuesday 7 November.

The survey is in six sections. Please complete Section A. The last question in Section A will guide you to which other sections are relevant to you.

Click here to complete our survey

If you would like this information in another language, Braille, audio tape, large print, easy read, BSL video or CD-ROM or plain text please contact us by emailing private.housing@bristol.gov.uk or calling 0117 922 4947.

Page last updated: 14 Sep 2023, 10:50 AM