As we mentioned in our ‘what is a HMO?’ section, there’s often confusion between the terms ‘HMO’ and 'HMO licence'. Not every HMO requires a HMO licence - it's very important to be aware of that.
Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004 changed and improved the ways in which HMOs are regulated, and included the provision for local authorities to introduce licensing schemes in certain areas or for certain categories of HMO. As well as the basic standards for HMOs, legislation dictates that more specific, thorough standards can be insisted on when a property requires a licence.
The three types of licensing schemes are;
Brought into force in 2006, Mandatory Licensing applies to any HMO with three or more storeys and five or more unrelated occupants, regardless of where the property is in the country.
Additional licensing gives local authorities the power to apply HMO licensing to properties that aren’t covered by mandatory licensing, such as self-contained flats. They will typically look to introduce Additional Licensing Schemes in geographical areas where there is a particular concern for the standard and/or management of HMOs.
Additional Licensing Schemes can last for a maximum of five years, at which point the local authority have to decide whether they have achieved the goals they set when initially proposing the scheme, or whether they wish to extend it for a further period of time.
Local authorities must first go through a consultation process, which includes the requirement to gather views and opinions from local residents, landlords and letting agents before being allowed to implement additional licensing.
Selective licensing does not apply specifically to HMOs and may be considered in areas where the demand for housing is low, or where anti-social behaviour is rife, and is intended to improve the appeal and quality of such areas. As Selective Licensing Schemes don’t apply strictly to HMOs, any property that falls within a selective licensing area must be licensed, regardless of whether it’s a HMO or not.
Similar to additional licensing, local authorities must go through a consultation process before introducing selective licensing.
At present, there are three licensing schemes in Cardiff. These are;
As we referred to above, mandatory licensing is in existence not only in Cardiff, but across the whole of the UK. Every HMO that stands three or more storeys high and houses five or more unrelated occupants must have a licence.
After a consultation process that involved speaking to local residents, landlords and letting agents about their proposals, Cardiff Council introduced additional licensing to the entire Cathays Community Ward in July 2010 and announced that it would last for five years.
It was then extended for a further five years from January 2016, which ended in January 2021. A consultation period on the proposed extension of the Cathays scheme closed on 22nd March 2022, with a decision expected soon. Any existing additional HMO licenses issued under the previous Cathays scheme will continue until they expire and renewal would not be required until the scheme is redeclared. Any valid applications pending on expiry of the scheme will be held or where requested returned to the applicant.
If a property within the area already has a licence through mandatory licensing, please note that it does not require a further licence.
In April 2014, Cardiff Council opened a consultation process with a view to extending additional licensing into the Plasnewydd Community Ward, which encompasses much of Roath as we know it.
Then, in July 2014, Cardiff Council officially announced that the licensing scheme would be coming into effect from November 2014, and revealed the proposed affected area.
Again, if a property within the area already has a licence through mandatory licensing, please note that it does not require a further licence.
Cardiff Council re-declared the scheme for a further five years as of 1st January 2021.
To find out how to apply for a HMO licence and what the application process entails, please visit our Applying for a HMO licence section.