News

Two thirds of Camden HMOs remain unlicensed almost 18 months after licensing scheme started

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 - Camden Council

Camden Council has revealed that between 4,000 and 6,000 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are believed to be operating illegally without a licence, almost 18 months after their additional licensing scheme came into force.

According to the council, just under 2,000 properties have either been licensed or in the process of being inspected for a licence since the scheme came into force on 8 December 2015. The council says their preferred approach is to work with landlords to help them make any necessary improvements to their property so that licences can be issued.

Camden Council is currently investigating private rented homes that may be operating illegally as unlicensed HMOs. The Council held a Housing Action Day on 26 April 2017 to draw landlords’ attention to their responsibilities and to inform tenants of their rights.

During the action day, housing officers raided several shared homes suspected of being poorly managed and let without a licence. The team found:

  • A flat divided into four bedsits on Haverstock Hill with fire safety hazards and a dangerous balcony. Officers suspect that the agents managing the flat sub-divided the lounge to create two bedrooms, one of them measuring just 5.3m2.
  • Another raid in the Euston area discovered an unlicensed five-bedroom bedsit with inadequate fire precautions.
  • The landlords and agents in control or managing the properties will now be investigated with a view to prosecution for Housing Act offences.

According to the council, typical practices unscrupulous landlords pursue include dangerously sub-dividing kitchen-diners to create additional bedrooms to maximise rental income, while neglecting basic health and safety measures including fitting smoke alarms and providing safe escape routes in the event of a fire.

All HMOs in Camden, regardless of their size, must now be licensed with the council. An HMO includes house and flat shares, student homes, bedsits and some buildings converted into flats.

Cllr Pat Callaghan, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing, Camden Council said:

Licensing HMOs in Camden protects tenants’ rights and improves their living standards, while the landlord gains certification from us that their home is fit to let. Our message to landlords running these shared homes is to seek advice from us and to get a licence – otherwise they could face prosecution, an unlimited fine and paying a rent refund.

Richard Tacagni, MD, London Property Licensing commented:

With the risk of prosecution or a civil penalty of up to £30,000, Camden landlords and letting agents need to act now or face the consequences. Let out a house or flat share in Camden to three or more people who are not all related and you need a licence, even if the property is let on one tenancy. Some properties converted to flats are also captured by the licensing scheme.

With so much confusion about licensing requirements, landlords and agents can ask us to oversee the licence application process and assist with all related queries, which helps to reduce the compliance risk while providing peace of mind”.   

Further information about property licensing schemes in Camden is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/camden and information about our licence application handling service is available here.

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