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Consultation on new housing licensing schemes approved by cabinet

In a bid to improve Slough’s privately rented accommodation, a consultation on Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing schemes was approved by Slough Borough Council’s (SBC) cabinet yesterday (Monday).

From October 1, all HMOs in the UK with five or more people, forming two or more separate households, must have a council granted HMO licence, regardless of the height of the building.

Current licensing only applies to HMOs of three or more storeys.

A landlord seeking a HMO licence must demonstrate to the council’s housing regulation team that their property meets all required safety standards.

The number of HMOs in Slough continues to rise and is now estimated at more than 3,500 properties.

In addition to the upcoming national regulations, cabinet agreed to approve a public consultation for two additional licensing schemes to improve safety.

The two proposed schemes are a borough-wide ‘additional licensing scheme’ which would cover smaller HMOs which would not be covered by mandatory licensing, for example, a property with fewer than five people forming two households.

The second is a ‘selective licensing scheme’, which would require all properties rented to single households in Slough’s Central and Chalvey wards to be licensed.

A council report discussed at yesterday’s meeting at St Martins Place, Bath Road, said that 51.5 per cent of housing in Central is privately rented compared to 50 per cent in Chalvey — the highest in the borough.

Across the town 32.9 per cent of accommodation is privately rented.

One in three Slough residents live in the privately rented sector, which SBC cabinet member for corporate finance and housing Cllr Mohammed Nazir (Lab, Baylis and Stoke) said ‘typically provides the lowest quality accommodation’.

Cabinet also approved a revised mandatory HMO licensing fee structure which will increase the fees from £572 to £950, in order to cover the £650 processing costs and £300 for enforcement.

Cllr Nazir added: “It is important to note there is no grace period regarding the new HMO regulations.

“If you’re a landlord of a licensable HMO, please don’t leave it to the last minute to obtain a licence. Apply now and protect your business.”

Failure to hold a valid licence could result in a civil penalty notice of up to £30,000, plus an additional fine of up to £30,000 for any breach of HMO regulations found by council officers.

Landlords or tenants of licensable HMOs or anyone with questions about the changes should email privatesectorhousing@slough.gov.uk or call 01753 875431.

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