Additional Licensing Scheme Changes 2021

Additional Licence Scheme 2021 is now in force

When does the scheme start and how long does it last?

On 10 March 2021, the Cabinet made a decision to approve a new designation for Additional Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation. This designation comes into force on 10th June 2021 and will last for five years.

What properties fall under the scheme?

HMOs with 3 or 4 tenants or HMOs that are classed as section 257 HMOs fall under this scheme.

HMOs with five or more tenants (unless they are section 257 HMOs) fall under the mandatory (England-wide) HMO licence scheme.

When do I need to apply?

If you have an HMO licence that expires on or after 10 June 2021, then you need to make a renewal application as in previous years. We will write to you to remind you to renew about two months before your licence expires.

Landlords will need to make a new application by 10 June 2021 if:

  1. The property had an HMO licence that expires between 24 January 2021 and 9 June 2021; or
  2. The property had an HMO licence that expired before 24 January 2021 and an application for a licence was not made at this time.

We have written to those landlords affected by the changes. If you have not yet made your application, you must do so immediately using our online form.

What fees apply?

For those properties that need a new application, then providing the application is made by 10 June 2021, the renewal fee will apply – even though we are asking for a new application. Payment is required in two stages.

For renewals, the stage one fee is £89.00 in all cases. Landlords may apply for a longer licence, we will assess the application to decide the stage two fee. The following fees apply:

  • Category C - One year licence: Stage one payment of £89. Stage two payment of £177. Total fee £266.
  • Category D - One year licence – higher fee: Stage one payment of £89. Stage two payment of £416. Total fee £505.
  • Category E - Two year licence: Stage one payment of £89. Stage two payment of £204. Total fee £293.
  • Category F - Five year licence: Stage one payment of £89. Stage two payment of £324. Total fee £413.

If your licence expires on, or after 10 June 2021, you need to make a renewal application as normal and the above fees are the relevant renewal application fees for 2021/22.

If you have not made your application by 10th June 2021 or fail to renew, then the new application Category B fee applies of £557.

Licences with an expiry date from 24 January to the 9 June 2021(inclusive of those dates) – what do I need to do?

As your HMO licence expires in the “gap” between schemes the Housing Act does not allow us to issue a renewal to your licence. You will have to make a new HMO licence application. We have written to the landlords of the affected properties to inform them how to make an application. The Council agreed that the fee for such “gap” licences would be the renewal fee and not the fee for a “new” application.

Applications received up to 9th June (midnight) will be charged a renewal fee.

Applications received on 10th June or later will be charged the Category B fee of £557 for a “new” application.

Licences expired before 24 January 2021 and were not renewed – what do I need to do?

If the property is still a HMO you must make a new application and you will need to pay the new application Category B fee of £557, not the renewal fee. You will not be eligible for a longer licence. This is because you failed to renew at the time the previous scheme was in force.

My property has a licence that expires on 10 June or after – what do I need to do?

You will receive a renewal reminder as in previous years and make a renewal application as normal. The stage one fee will be £89 and you can apply for a longer licence.

Can I have a longer licence?

The Council is continuing with the one, two, five year licence scheme. In order to receive a two or five year licence, the following criteria apply.

Table showing two or five year HMO licence criteria
Two year licence Five year licence
No fit and proper person concerns No fit and proper person concerns
HMO meets standards – minor repair conditions allowed, no carried forward conditions HMO meets standards – no additional conditions
Up to 2 justified* service requests in last year No justified* service requests in last year
Application submitted by 10 June or for normal renewals, 14 days before expiry of current licence
 
Application submitted by 10 June or for normal renewals, 14 days before expiry of current licence
Safety certificates submitted with application (current and satisfactory) (see below) Safety certificates submitted with application (current and satisfactory) (see below)
Fire risk assessment submitted Fire risk assessment submitted
Planning permission granted (change of use or certificate of lawful use) or clear historic use Planning permission granted (change of use or certificate of lawful use) or clear historic use
All building work requiring building control approval  properly certified All building work requiring building control approval  properly certified
Stage two fee paid as requested Stage two fee paid as requested
  Licence holder or manager is accredited**

* Justified means where the council have investigated and have evidence that supports the allegation and / or had to take action to resolve the issue.

Further information on accreditation requirements are available on the five year criteria webpage.

Safety certificates: We require up to date copies of the following certificates:

  • Gas safety (if gas in property) – annual check
  • Electrical safety certificate – five yearly check
  • Smoke / heat detectors or fire alarm system certificates / declarations – annual check
  • Emergency lighting (if installed) – annual check
  • Energy performance certificate – ten yearly check, must be at Band E or higher (unless property is exempt)

It is the applicants’ responsibility to ensure the Council is provided with the necessary documentation in order to apply for a longer licence. We will assess the application and determine if it is appropriate to grant a longer licence.

Are there any changes to the two or five year criteria?

Yes.

For two and five year licences, we will be checking the house is compliant with planning permission or has clear historic use and there are no outstanding work with Building Control.

For five year licences, we are accepting national and regional accreditation schemes. Please note, where the managing agent has full management control and is accredited then this will allow the landlord (licence holder) to gain a five year licence.

All properties that fall under the “five year” licence criteria will have a licence issued for five years. We will not issue “end of scheme” licences as in the previous scheme.

You can find further information on the two year licence and five year licence webpages.  

Are there any changes to licence conditions?

Yes. Licence conditions apply to both mandatory HMO licences and additional HMO licences. The standard licence conditions will include new conditions on:

  • Reference request
  • Regular property inspection and taking action on disrepair/pests, when informed of a problem
  • Have arrangements in place for tenants to report emergencies where the licence holder is out of the country for over one month
  • Provision of rent receipt (where rent paid in cash)
  • Where tenants pay bills, to provide the tenants with details of utility provider and billing information
  • Provide tenants with a user manual or written instructions for the correct operation and setting of the fixed form of heating system in the property.

A copy of the licence conditions is available with our "Minimum Standards for HMOs".

Are there any changes to the amenity and facility requirements?

No. Our amenity and facility guide for HMOs remains the same. This was updated in 2018. The 2018 revision included:

  • New minimum bedroom sizes following a change to national legislation
  • Information on different fire precautions for properties with joint or separate tenancy agreements – this was not a change in standards, it was to make it clear that different fire precautions have always been required for joint or separate tenancies as per national guidance
  • More information provided on fire precautions for bedsit rooms (kitchen facilities within the bedroom and shared bathroom facilities)
  • More information on kitchen facilities for shared houses with a split between requirements for under 5 people sharing, 6 to 7 people sharing and 8 to 10 people sharing
  • Information on standards for section 257 HMOs (converted blocks of self-contained flats)

If we re-inspect the house and find the HMO does not meet the 2018 guide then we are likely to request changes.

We plan to update the Amenity and Facility Guide in 2021 to include updated information on the new Additional Licence scheme and changes to regulations on Electrical Safety and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard.

Will you remind landlords to apply and what happens if I forget to apply?

As with a normal renewal of an HMO licence, it is your responsibility to apply for the licence.

Properties whose licence expires on or after 10 June 2021 will be sent a renewal reminder approximately two months before expiry of the licence.

We have written to those landlords whose licences expired between the expiry of the old scheme and start of the new scheme to tell them to apply.

If you forget to apply, then you will be charged the new application fee instead of the renewal fee. In addition, it is an offence to fail to licence an HMO and the Council may begin an investigation for operating an unlicensed HMO.

Will you inspect the house before issue of the licence?

No. We will not inspect. We will check the previous licence for any outstanding conditions and our records to see if any conditions need to be added to the licence. We will then inspect or audit the properties once in the five years – we may inspect more often if there are concerns raised about a property.

Do I have to send in certificates if you already have the current certificate?

If we have the current certificate on record at the time you make your application then you do not need to submit them again. We suggest that you submit the current certificate(s) with the application, even if we already have this on record, if you want to apply for a longer licence.

Can I change the licence holder and benefit from the renewal fee?

No. A licence is issued to a named person.  This requires a new application to be made. This is always charged as a new application.

If the property is sold and a new owner applies will this be a new application fee or a renewal fee?

A licence is issued to a named person and cannot be transferred to another person.  This requires a new application to be made. This is always charged as a new application.

How long will it take for my licence to be issued?

If your licence expired in the gap between schemes, then due to the large volume of applications it will take us longer to issue a licence than normal. We will begin issuing licences from 10th June 2021 onwards and we expect to have issued all these licences by 30 November 2021. For “gap licences”, providing you have made your application (application form, declaration and stage one fee payment) by the 10th June, you have met your legal obligation in relation to operating a HMO with a licence.

If your licence expires on or after 10th June and is a normal renewal, we expect to issue a licence within 6 weeks of the expiry date.

What if we want to re-mortgage / sell our property and mortgage company / buyers want evidence of the property being an HMO?

An HMO is defined under section 254 and 257 of the Housing Act 2004. Your tenancy agreements should provide evidence the house is an HMO.

Do I still need planning permission?

Yes. Planning permission is a separate requirement. The following “use categories” apply:

  • C4 HMO (3 to 6 person HMO) – HMO must have been granted permission for change of use or benefits from historic permitted development rights

or

  • sui generis (large HMO 7+ people) – HMO must have been granted planning permission for change of use

Small HMOs (3 to 6 people) that were in existence prior to 25 January 2012 and have remained continuously occupied as an HMO will benefit from historic permitted development rights and do not need a change of use application – however, a certificate of lawful use can be applied for to confirm the use is lawful.

If you have a 7+ person HMO then you must have been granted change of use or a certificate of lawful use.

Will my property still be on the HMO register? 

When the licence expires, the property will not be on the HMO register. Once the licence is issued, the property will then be on the HMO register.

Why was there a break in the scheme?

The Council was planning on consulting in spring / summer 2020 whether to continue the Additional Licensing Scheme or not. The decision would have been made in autumn 2020 in plenty of time to inform landlords that either: the scheme would continue from 24 January 2021 or it would stop.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic starting in spring 2020, Government advised that consultation relating to property licensing should be paused at that time. We took this advice. It was never our intention to have a break – we had planned that, if the scheme continued, it would be continuous. It is unfortunate we had a break however this was out of our control. When Government advice changed we were able to carry out the consultation.