HMO Licensing in Cardiff has been criticised by a trade body, which has spoken out and claimed that the consultation period for the scheme was too short, and could have breached guidelines.
Cardiff Council has announced that it wants to re-establish an additional HMO licensing scheme and has proposed adding a further ward to the border of the scheme.
The authority has justified the extension of the HMO licensing scheme in general, in order to build upon the current positive improvements which have already been achieved. It also aims to further maintain and boost the quality of small HMOs, as well as improving the security and safety of tenants.
However, the RLA (Residential Landlords Association) has announced its opposition to the proposals and has emphasised that the best practice guidelines issued by both the National Assembly for Wales and the UK government recommend that a consultation held for such important matters is for a minimum 12 week period. Additional time would also be required should the period of consultation fall over any public holidays.
Amongst other criticisms that the RLA noted, it explained that the consultation was open for only seven weeks, with the New Year and Christmas break taking place at the middle of the consultation period.
The Residential Landlords Association also warned that there were technical issues in assessing some of the documents relating to the consultation, with no link on the online live consultation page to the consultation document itself.
In addition to this, the Residential Landlords Association also claimed that criminal and rogue landlords will simply ignore this scheme, in a similar way that many other rules and regulations are ignored by bad landlords.
A professional property inspection, either organised by the landlord or the letting agent on their behalf, can prove crucial in ensuring that the property meets all current legal requirements and regulations. This ensures that the tenant remains healthy and safe when living in the rental home, as well as making sure that the landlord cannot be penalised for not following the law.
Cardiff Council has proposed that landlords are charged between £475 and £550 for each rental property, in order to obtain the additional HMO licence. The Residential Landlords Association is concerned that landlords will be likely to pass this cost onto renters in the form of raised rents in order to cover the increased cost of applying for an HMO licence. This will do nothing to help affordability for tenants.
The RLA also questions the effectiveness of the existing additional HMO licensing scheme, and cites within a statement that the consultation document explains that currently only 37 per cent of the additional homes are confirmed as meeting a certain standard. This includes those properties which were included in a complaint within the application, and those properties which are subject to the current licensing process.
Increased levels of security are also required for homes licensed under the HMO scheme, which has led to 521 notices being issued in relation to security issues since the implementation of the scheme. As a result of this, 17 per cent of these homes were then confirmed to have complied with the licensing scheme. The Residential Landlords Association insists that this therefore raises concerns over the claims from the consultation that this scheme has been a success.
The organisation also adds that the document reads more like an account of a failing policy, when taking into account that the figure of 37 per cent includes homes which were considered up to the correct standard even before the stage for applications. This means, the RLA states, that more than half of HMO properties are still not compliant with the licensing scheme.