Cabinet decision on consultation for new private sector housing licensing proposals

Posted on Wednesday 2 October 2019

Plans to carry out an extensive public consultation on the potential introduction of two Discretionary Licensing Schemes for private sector housing within Bournemouth Christchurch and Poole, are to be discussed by BCP Council’s Cabinet.

The Discretionary Licensing schemes include an Additional Licensing Scheme that would look at regulating Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs) across the BCP Council area, and a Selective Licencing Scheme regulating all private sector properties within a specifically defined geographical area.

The recommendation going before Cabinet in October is to agree a 12-week extensive public consultation exercise starting in early 2020. This would be to engage with landlords, residents, businesses and other stakeholders. The consultation would include face-to-face roadshows to discuss the proposals, as well as independently facilitated groups for residents and landlords.

If introduced, Discretionary Licensing would provide continuous regulation and an inspection regime to ensure housing standards are maintained, and properties are suitably managed to prevent issues such as anti-social behaviour, crime and deprivation.

Councillor Kieron Wilson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “High density, highly populated areas where the private rental sector is significant often results in a transient population and lack of community cohesion. Whilst not the case for all, it can also attract a disproportionate number of people with challenging and chaotic lifestyles leading to further social issues. Discretionary Licensing schemes have been shown to be effective in addressing tenancy management issues and housing conditions, but before agreeing to go ahead, a public consultation must be carried out to ensure all those who might be affected have the chance to have their say.”

Following an evidence-based assessment the two Discretionary Licensing schemes to be considered within the consultation are: Additional Licensing of HMOs across BCP Council area, which would include all properties with three or more occupants who are from two or more households.

Selective Licensing area analysis includes areas with a high proportions of private rented sector homes, significant problems caused by anti-social behaviour, high levels of deprivation existing and high levels of crime experienced. The areas identified contain 12,415 properties.

If the schemes are approved all qualifying landlords will be required to hold a licence, which is subject to a fee. License fee income can only be used towards the costs of administering the scheme.

If approved consultation will run from mid-January to April 2020 and following a detailed analysis of results, recommendations will go back to Cabinet later in the year. Secretary of state approval would be required prior to implementation of a scheme, as the proposed areas cover more than 20% of the total private rented accommodation across BCP.