While the majority of landlords operate responsibly, there are concerns that a small minority:
- fail to provide acceptable living conditions
- inadequately deal with anti-social behaviour by their tenants
- don’t have satisfactory management and maintenance arrangements in place
To tackle these issues, the council is proposing to introduce additional licensing in specific parts of the borough where there are higher numbers of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs). The new scheme would mean affected landlords having to comply with national health and safety standards and local criteria.
Current UK-wide mandatory licensing affects properties occupied by 5 or more people from 2 or more households – this is set to be extended from 1 October, with the number of floors in the building no longer relevant.
Under the new proposals, small shared houses and flats of 3 to 4 persons in certain areas of the borough would have to be deemed suitable for the number of occupants and the landlord would have to pass a 'fit and proper' person test before the council would grant them a 5-year licence. The areas proposed to be covered by the new scheme would be Aveley and Uplands, Belhus, Chadwell St Mary, Grays Thurrock, Grays Riverside, Little Thurrock Blackshots, Ockendon, Stifford Clays, Tilbury Riverside and Thurrock Park, Tilbury St Chads, and West Thurrock and South Stifford.
Cllr Barry Johnson, portfolio holder for housing, said: "The majority of landlords act responsibly, but sadly there are those who fail to provide acceptable living conditions and don’t have adequate protection for their tenants or neighbouring homes in place. This is unacceptable and can lead to problems for both their tenants and the wider community.
"We believe everyone should have a good quality place to live and tightening the regulations around more shared houses and flats would enable us to ensure homes are safe and well managed.
"It is important to emphasise that no final decision has been made and I would encourage landlords, tenants and other residents to have their say on the proposals."
The consultation, which launched yesterday (9 July), is open until Monday 24 September – go to thurrock.gov.uk/hmo
Consultation events will take place at the Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, RM17 6SL on the following dates:
- Tuesday 17 July, from 6pm to 8pm
- Monday 30 July, from 2pm to 4pm
- Thursday 16 August, from 6pm to 8pm
- Friday 31 August, from 11am to 1pm
- Monday 10 September, from 2pm to 4pm