New laws to target bedsit landlords

HOUSING chiefs are keeping a close eye on 20 properties converted into bedsits in the Suffolk Coastal area which will need new licences to ensure they are legal and meet national regulations.

HOUSING chiefs are keeping a close eye on 20 properties converted into bedsits in the Suffolk Coastal area which will need new licences to ensure they are legal and meet national regulations.

The landlords of the properties - most of which are understood to be in south Felixstowe - now have to apply for licences.

If they fail to, Suffolk Coastal council's housing team is ready to use new laws, which come into force in July, for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), which provide powers for fines up to £20,000 on landlords if their properties do not come up to scratch.

Cabinet member Chris Slemmings said the new laws are intended to raise standards of accommodation in the private rented sector.


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He said: “We think the new rules will affect 20 or so properties in our district as they apply to any landlord letting out large HMOs that are on three storeys or more, and have five or more unrelated people living in them. They must now apply to us for a mandatory licence.

“The government has specified minimum amenity standards, setting out the requirements for kitchens, bathrooms and toilets in these types of HMO.”

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The local housing authority, and in certain circumstances the tenant, can apply for a rent repayment order to reclaim the rent paid during the period up to a maximum of 12 months when the landlord did not have a licence.

A landlord without a licence will also not be able to evict tenants for rent arrears.

Mr Slemmings said: “This is an important part of our housing sector as HMOs provide affordable housing for many young and vulnerable tenants, and this council has worked closely with landlords to bring about good standards.

“Nationally, the most common problems with multiple occupancy relate to poor fire safety standards, overcrowding, inadequate facilities and poor or unscrupulous management. These new powers will help us ensure these are not issues in our district.”

Licensed landlords also have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to ensure tenants are not causing problems within the boundaries of the property through anti-social behaviour.

n. Do you think the new laws will be helpful? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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