Student landlords renting out small shared homes in Southampton will have to prove they are ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence under a proposed compulsory registration scheme.
Labour-led Southampton City Council wants to regulate around 6,500 small houses in multiple occupation across the city.
The scheme will involve a blanket citywide ban on opening new small HMOs for three to five students or other tenants sharing a home without a licence.
Landlords will have to pass the ‘fit and proper’ person test and pay £500 for a five year licence per letting property.
They already have to apply for planning permission to rent out any new small HMO.
The council expects to raise £3 million to run the ‘self-financing’ scheme and intends to target landlords with a 15-strong task force who will administer landlords and deal with complaints.
Although the city has many good landlords, the council has also claims some landlords and tenants have had “significant problems” with unsafe properties, poor management and antisocial behaviour.
Cabinet member for housing Councillor Warwick Payne said: “Good landlords have nothing to fear and will gain from having a better reputation and aiming for higher standards.
“The aim is to improve neighbourhoods for all residents and we want to consult as widely as possible and take all views into account.”
A 12-week consultation starts on September 3.
Southampton already has an HMO licensing scheme covering nearly 400 houses of three storeys or more, shared by six or more unrelated people.
Roger Bell, of the Southern Landlords’ Association said the license fee was unjustified.
“The cost will be passed onto those least able to pay it who are forced to live in HMOs because they cannot afford anywhere else, not only students,” he said.
Landlord and letting agents also argue rents will rise and some landlords will switch to standard lets, reducing the amount of HMO accommodation in the city.
Ever since the autumn statement in 2016, the potential impact of the tenant
fee ban has received widespread coverage. While many tenants were positive
about the changes it did present the prospect of a major change for the