Buzz Blog # 5 – Know your landlord licencing

From October 2015, all private rented houses or flats that are let under a single tenancy must have a Selective licence if they are situated in Castle, Braybrooke, Gensing, Central St Leonards, Ore, Tressell or Old Hastings wards. You are able to look at an A-Z street list on Hastings Borough Council’s website to confirm if you are required to obtain this. The aim of Selective Licensing is to improve conditions, management standards and tenancy practices in the private rented sector to ensure that properties have a positive impact on the area. This is currently in place for Hastings and St Leonards only so does not yet affect Rother or other councils within our Area.

A license is usually valid for 5 years and costs £665 per property. Applications can be completed online and the council will ask you to upload copies of the safety certificates for the property along with any tenancy agreement and inventory. If you are purchasing the property with a sitting tenant as an investment the license cannot be transferred from a previous owner so you will need to apply again.

If you are required to obtain a selective license and fail to do so then it is considered a criminal offence, an unlimited fine can be imposed and a section 21 (notice for the tenants to leave) will become invalid. It is your responsibility as a landlord to check if any such licenses are required.

More information about the Selective Licensing scheme, including how to apply can be found here.

There are further licenses you may be required to obtain. A HMO or House in multiple occupation license may also be required. Some of the reasons a HMO may be required are as follows.
If you have control of a block containing multiple dwellings or lettings, you may need to apply for an HMO licence. This would normally be applied for by a right to manage company, a head freeholder or lessee or their appointed representative.
Any single HMO dwelling that is occupied by three or more persons who form two or more separate households (are not related or married), and who share basic amenities.

More information on the different licences, the requirements and what constitutes separate households can be found here.

According to Hastings Borough Councils website a stock condition survey undertaken in 2016 found that only 50% of HMOs in the town centre wards had mains wired smoke detectors and only 61% of flats and HMOs had a protected escape route. One in seven (14%) of privately rented properties had one or more category one hazards. In Castle ward this proportion increased to 1 in 5 (20%). HMO licensing will help address hazardous conditions in HMOs, and shorter licences for non-compliant properties will encourage landlords to upgrade their properties and management standards.
Before applying for any licenses online you will need to apply for a ‘Fit and Proper Person’ certificate. The reference number on this will be required to complete you online license application. You will only need to apply for the Fit and Proper Person certificate once and this can then be used for multiple licenses.

If you own or manage a property that requires HMO licensing, it is your responsibility to ensure that you apply for a licence. As per the selective licensing failure to do so is an offence under the Housing Act 2004, and a person committing such an offence is liable to prosecution and an unlimited fine, or a civil penalty of up to £30,000. Section 21 ‘notice to quit’ cannot be served on any tenant who is occupying all or part of a property that requires licensing, but where a licence has not been applied for.

Contact the office on 01424 430011 to find out more about our packages and services. We look forward to hearing from you.