The new Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell MP at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) says minimum room sizes are to apply to shared homes, improving housing for thousands in the rented housing sector.
The government’s aim appears to be part of a drive – along with a bundle of other measures included in the Housing and Planning Act (2016) – to clamp down on rogue landlords that have been cramming tenants into unsafe and overcrowded homes.
In a press release issued by Mr Barwell he claims that the measures will, “strengthen councils to tackle problem homes head-on and bring an end to ruthless landlords who exploit tenants and charge them extortionate rents to live in poor conditions.”
The proposals will make it clear that bedrooms must not fall below a minimum room size, to close a loophole which has allowed some landlords let out rooms which are far too small for an adult to occupy.
The Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said:
“In order to build a country that truly works for everyone we must ensure that everyone has somewhere safe and secure to live.
“These measures will give councils the powers they need to tackle poor-quality rental homes in their area.
“By driving out rogue landlords that flout the rules out of business, we are raising standards and giving tenants the protection they need.
Other intended measures to help councils raise standard in shared homes include:
- Ensuring mandatory licensing rules apply to all shared homes with 5 or more people from 2 or more household, and to flats above and below shops and other business premises – currently licensing only kick-ins for homes with 3 or more floors and excludes homes attached to businesses, unless they are in a 3 storey buildings
- requiring landlords of shared homes to provide decent storage and disposal of rubbish
- tightening up the fit and proper person test for landlords and ensuring criminal record checks are carried out to weed out rogues
Where a landlord fails to obtain a licence they will be liable to pay a potentially unlimited fine.
These measures will complement other government efforts to crack down on rogue landlords who cash in on renting out homes to vulnerable people, says the press release from DCLG.
More than £5 million of targeted government funding to 48 councils has brought a big increase in the number of homes checked over 3 months. In early 2016, more than 33,000 homes were inspected and nearly 2,800 rogue landlords are now facing prosecution for providing substandard homes, the government says.
A consultation has now launched on the proposed measures which apply to England only.
In addition the government is also seeking views on whether the current licensing arrangements for purpose built student accommodation are appropriate.
The minimum room size is 6.52 square metres.
The government’s response to an early consultation on extending mandatory licensing in houses of multiple occupation has also been published.
Powers in the Housing and Planning Act, which are also being introduced will further crackdown poor quality homes by introducing a database of rogue landlords and property agents, banning orders for the most prolific and serious offenders, penalties of up to £30,000 and extended rent repayment orders, says the DCLG.
See Houses in multiple occupation and residential property licensing reforms – here
— LandlordZONE (@LandlordZONE) October 31, 2016