The Bath and North East Somerset area is preparing to see the end of the Additional Licensing HMO Scheme, with the programme set to conclude on New Year’s Eve.
Since its inception in 2018, this initiative has covered an impressive 1,280 properties. This number includes 823 HMOs that were not previously licensed. The scheme’s impact has been profound. The council reports that due to the scheme, over 1,000 enhancements spanning fire safety, heating, security, space, and amenities have been accomplished. Notably, these improvements include 293 fire alarm system upgrades. The scheme has not only led to tangible upgrades but has also heightened the awareness regarding safety and amenities for shared housing. Furthermore, it has broadened the council’s understanding of the exact location and ownership of HMOs in Bath.
However, as the year draws to a close, all the existing Additional HMO licences are slated to expire on December 31. Given this, the council is currently evaluating the evidence to determine the necessity of similar schemes in the future.
Councillor Matt McCabe, responsible for Built Environment and Sustainable Development in Bath’s council, expressed his views on the scheme’s conclusion: “The Additional HMO Licensing Scheme has done what it set out to do, improve standards and keep tenants safe by ensuring the effective and appropriate management of a property.”
He further added, “Importantly it has also helped to reduce the impact of poor HMOs on the community. However, we will continue to review all the evidence available to us over the coming months, to see if we need to begin a new scheme.”
McCabe went on to assure residents that “the Mandatory HMO licensing, introduced by the Housing Act 2004, continues to operate in Bath and North East Somerset and applies to shared houses or flats occupied by five or more people from different families where tenants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.”
It’s imperative to note that not possessing an HMO licence remains a criminal offence. Those found guilty can either face an unlimited fine upon conviction or be levied with a civil penalty amounting up to £30,000 for each offence.