Shared house landlords in one university city are set to pay out £1 million over the next five years in licensing fees for houses of multiple occupation (HMOs).
Councillors in Brighton intend to triple the number of homes paying HMO licence fees in the south coast city from 800 to almost 2,500 by changing the rules to catch more landlords.
The licence fee adds up to £2.46 a week per property for houses in neighbourhoods of Hanover and Elm Grove, Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, St Peters and North Laine, Hollingdean and Stanmer and Queen’s Park.
Brighton and Hove City Council claims the money will be spent on improving living standards, fire safety and community relations, but any cash spent on the houses will also come from landlords as the licensing fees only go to administering the scheme.
Housing committee chair Liz Wakefield said: “In some areas we have high concentrations of HMOs, and unfortunately there is a minority of landlords whose management is less than effective and this can encourage noise and litter nuisance.
“This additional licensing aims to address these problems while improving tenants’ housing conditions.
“We think that £2.46 a week is a small price to pay for the assurance that tenants enjoy decent and safe homes and that neighbours do not have to put up with problems of poorly managed HMOs.”
The council will issue five-year licenses to HMO landlords – charging £641 per property.
East Sussex Fire and Rescue backed the scheme and explained HMOs accounted for a number of house fires in the city.
“When a premises is licensed by the local authority, we believe it takes away some of this doubt about safety and provides a prescriptive approach to the fire safety standards similar to the old defunct fire certification process,” said a spokesman.