Barnet Council is reintroducing borough-wide HMO licensing in a bid to improve property standards despite less than impressive figures in its previous additional licensing scheme.
According to one of the respondents in the consultation report, only 32% of licensable properties had been licensed, meaning that just 591 additional licences were issued.
Although the council said these figures were recorded before the end of the scheme in July 2021, it blamed the low figures on Covid and has promised that new data systems would enable it to investigate specific addresses if an application wasn’t received.
Following a review of its additional licensing and a three-month public consultation, the new five-year scheme will start on 27th October. Landlords are now being urged to submit their applications and £1,404 fee early to avoid enforcement action.
Barnet does not have selective licensing but the council has also approved a scheme in the Burnt Oak, Colindale North and Colindale South wards which will start in January 2023.
A consultation on revised plans for a second phase of selective licensing in other parts of the borough launches in September. If approved, these would need approval by the Secretary of State due to the size of the combined schemes.
Octane Capital recently reported that the number of HMOs in Barnet dropped from 5,930 in 2019/20 to 3,760 in 2020/21, a fall of 37%, one of the biggest in the country. Other London councils saw even bigger falls, which the lender blames on licensing schemes and increasing regulations.
Councillor Ross Houston, Barnet’s chair of the housing and growth committee, says: “These new measures will also help further reduce anti-social behaviour that can sometimes be associated with HMOs, and that can only be a good thing for everybody.”