Following the introduction of the Additional Licensing Scheme in Cathays in July 2010, Cardiff Council are now proposing to extend the scheme into Plasnewydd for an initial period of 5 years, with the aim being to improve the quality of smaller HMOs and ensure the safety and security of tenants.
The scheme proposes to cover the whole of the Plasnewydd Community Ward, which encompasses much of Roath as we know it. A map showing the full area is available via Cardiff Council.
In January 2012, a report was approved by the Council’s Executive to undertake consultation with both internal and external stakeholders, as required by the Housing Act (Section 56) 2004. This consultation process opened on 11th April 2014 and will run until 22nd May 2014, so Cardiff Council are inviting all landlords, letting agents, businesses and residents of the area to pass comment on the proposals by completing the associated questionnaire.
The questionnaire is available on the Government’s website, and it also provides the Public Consultation document explaining the Council’s proposals, relevant legislation, factors which will affect the decision to designate the Plasnewydd Community Ward, how the scheme will work in practice and benefits of operating such a scheme.
Landlords with experience of the Additional Licensing Scheme in Cathays will know what the proposals mean to them and their properties, but for those who haven’t encountered the scheme as yet, some explanation of its history, policing and aims may be required.
The Housing Act 2004 changed and improved the way in which Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) are regulated. Briefly, a HMO is defined as a dwelling occupied by three or more unrelated persons, although full guidance on ‘Is my property an HMO?’ is available through CPS Homes.
The Act introduced a duty on local authorities to operate a Mandatory Licensing Scheme for HMOs consisting of three or more storeys with five or more occupants, with the aim being to ensure that HMOs have the amenities and facilities for the number of occupants and to ensure they are well-managed by “fit and proper persons”. A licence specifies the maximum number of people who can live in the HMO and includes specific standard conditions which apply to every licence, including fire safety, space standards and amenities.
The Housing Act 2004 also contains provisions enabling local authorities to extend licensing to other categories of HMOs in order to address particular problems that may exist in smaller HMO properties and also in sub-standard converted self-contained flats. These additional provisions include Additional Licensing Schemes, which is what Cardiff Council have already implemented in Cathays and propose to extend to Plasnewydd, and apply to HMOs with 3 or more unrelated occupiers, regardless of how many storeys.
In short, if you own a property that falls in the Plasnewydd Community Ward and you let it to three or more unrelated persons, you will require a HMO licence under the proposed scheme extension. Other properties, such as self-contained flats in converted buildings that don’t meet 1991 Building Regulations, may also be affected.
The Council currently charges each landlord a licensing fee in the region of £560-£770 per property for a licence, which is valid for a period of 5 years. This is to cover the cost of administration, issuing of licences / accompanying documents, inspections, enforcement and monitoring of properties.