- HMOs make an important contribution in the provision of affordable accommodation in the community, especially for single person households. This provision will become particularly necessary following the changes to the local housing allowance.
- Bournemouth has always been pro-active in ensuring standards are maintained in HMOs with comprehensive inspection programmes in place. Bournemouth was the first Council in the country to develop a registration scheme for HMOs.
- A Landlord Accreditation Scheme was first introduced in Bournemouth in 2004. The scheme is a form of self-regulation that acknowledges good landlords. It is a successful way to help improve and maintain standards in the private rented sector.
- Certain types of HMO are required to be licensed with the Council under a national, mandatory scheme. These are the larger multi-occupied properties which are three storeys or more and are occupied by 5 or more residents who form two or more households. There are currently around 500 licensed HMOs in the borough.
- Following detailed consultation with landlords, community groups and other stakeholders, fully revised HMO Amenity Standards were introduced in April 2010.
- The majority of the HMOs known to the Council are concentrated in the Boscombe and Winton areas. The issues associated with them tend to differ between the areas.
- The Council works in partnership with the Police, the university, residents groups and ward councillors to minimise the impact of the high density of HMOs in the Winton area.
Article 4 Direction (Planning Controls for HMOs)
- An ‘Article 4 Direction’ is a planning tool, used in conjunction with policies set out in the Local Development Framework Core Strategy that can be used to remove permitted development rights from a particular development.
- An Article 4 Direction was introduced in Bournemouth in December 2011 which removed the permitted development rights for a change of use of a dwelling house within use class C3 to an HMO within use class C4 (one which is occupied with 3-6 occupants sharing facilities)
- This means that any new HMO containing between 3 – 6 occupants will now require planning permission. It will not have any impact on existing HMOs but will enable the council to limit the number of new HMOs where there is already a high saturation in the locality.
The Oxford Initiative (Additional Licensing of HMOs)
- Councils can designate areas for additional licensing in respect of some or all of the HMOs that are not already subject to mandatory licensing. In 2010 the requirement for government approval for a scheme changed to local councils making the decision.
- Before designating an area for licensing, extensive research and consultation needs to be carried out. There must be a sound business case and the Council must be able to show a significant proportion of the HMOs in the area are giving rise to problems due to their poor management.
- Problems may include poor external condition, poor internal conditions impacting on the occupiers, problems of anti social behaviour and landlords not taking reasonable and lawful steps to deal with issues.
- HMOs are a major concern in Oxford and the city council has introduced a city wide additional licensing scheme to tackle the poor conditions there. The council had used all their existing powers to their full extent and concluded that they needed to do more to improve the quality and standard of management of their HMOs.
- Bournemouth is now giving consideration to how a similar scheme could be developed for Bournemouth, including the areas it may apply to and the timescales for introduction.
- The Council will carry out full consultation with stakeholders, community groups, landlords and Bournemouth residents before any scheme is introduced.