Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place)
The Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Place) which sought approval to adopt revised fees and charges relating to Mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing and housing inspections commencing April 2019.
In October 2018 the Government amended the definition of a Mandatory Licensable House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) by removing the rule relating to the property being of three storeys or more and as such requiring all HMOs occupied by 5 or more people o be licensed under the national mandatory licensing scheme.
The Council now estimates that, as a result of the extension of the mandatory licensing definition there will be an additional 1200 HMOs that will require licensing under the mandatory scheme. This has increased the total number of licensable HMOs to around 2400.
Current resources were in place to deliver the original scheme and approval has been sought to provide additional resources to deliver the estimated increase in outputs. A recruitment process was currently underway to secure additional resources and the fees and charges to fund these posts have been reviewed resulting in the need for fees to be amended as per the report.
The Housing Act 2004 permits the Council to require any application for a licence under Part 2 to be accompanied by a licence fee and that this fee may properly cover all costs incurred by the Council in carrying out its functions. In developing the fee structure, the Council had to have regard to the European Court of Justice ruling in R (Hemming) V Westminster City Council (Case C-316/15) and the High Court decision in R (Gaskin) v LB Richmond Upon Thames (2018) EWHC 1996 (Admin).
As a result of the Hemming case in particular, the Council is required to request payments in two stages – Stage 1 to cover the costs associated with determining the initial application and Stage 2 to cover the costs of running and enforcing the scheme.
As such the Council, when setting its fees, has adopted the two stage approach. All fees and charges will be reviewed on an annual basis. Table 1 within the report outlined the proposed fees and charges for the next financial year commencing 1st April 2019 which would be reviewed annually.
The Council also provides a number of inspection services for landlords who are proposing to use their property as a HMO and to provide their property to the Council for homelessness purposes. The Council currently delivers these services free of charge and it was proposed that costs are recovered through fees to provide these services, which would reduce the burden on the Council’s budget and the public purse.
RESOLVED that, the Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities:
1. Considered and approves the fees and charges relating to Mandatory Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing and housing inspections as set out in the report.
2. Authorises the Head of Planning and Regulatory Services to implement the fees and charges structure commencing from 1 April 2019 and to review and amend the fees and charges (as appropriate) each financial year thereafter.