Give your views on smaller shared homes

Salford City Council is proposing to introduce landlord licensing for shared homes, where three or four tenants live.

The move comes after inspections over the last 12 months of smaller homes in multiple occupation (HMOs) showed issues with fire safety, damp and heating along with problems over storing and disposing of domestic waste leading to complaints from neighbours.

Ninety two percent of the three and four person HMO homes inspected showed problems ranging from missing to inadequate fire alarm systems despite it being a legal requirement, missing or damaged fire doors, inadequate or blocked escape routes and insufficient measures to prevent fire and smoke spreading. Over a third were damp and/or suffering from mould because of leaky roofs or walls and a third had no or inadequate heating.

When alerted to the dangers, over 80 per cent of landlords or managing agents carried out improvements and removed hazards without the need for formal enforcement action but council statistics show complaints about all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) have risen from 152 a year in 2015/16 to 265 in 2018/19.

At present only houses where five or more tenants sharing have to be licensed under a mandatory HMO scheme as well as any rented home in parts of Broughton, Charlestown and Lower Kersal and Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley where selective licensing schemes apply.

Under licensing, the landlord and property manager have to demonstrate they are a ‘fit and proper person’ to let the property and that they have suitable management arrangements in place. The licence will also determine the maximum number of occupants to make sure tenants are not living in cramped and overcrowded properties.

This includes all relevant safety checks being carried out regularly and that tenants have bins and know how to properly recycle and dispose of waste. If the landlord fails to licence the property or breaches conditions of the licence and fails to remedy the situation the council can issue civil penalty notices or prosecute.

Deputy City Mayor, Councillor Tracy Kelly who leads on housing, said the idea of licensing smaller shared properties was to improve housing conditions for tenants and reduce problems in neighbourhoods.

“We have seen a massive growth in private renting and conversion of properties to houses in multiple occupation in Salford as the city is regarded as an investment hotspot,” she said.

“In the last five years conversions to HMOs of all sizes in selective licensing areas have risen by 460 per cent in Eccles, 410 per cent in Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley and 196 per cent in Broughton. On 6 November, 2019, in just three non-licensed areas in Salford there were 57 adverts offering rooms to rent in a shared house. Just over a month later on 10 December, that had nearly doubled to 102 such adverts.

“There is currently no legal requirement for landlords of three and four person HMOs to have their property licenced by the council. An extended licensing scheme to cover these properties would enable us to be sure that people are living in safe and decent conditions and not causing issues for the wider community.”

Salford City Council has launched a consultation about an additional HMO licensing scheme to see if numbers of three or four person HMOs have increased, if there are any issues as a result and if a licensing scheme should be brought in citywide.

The survey can be completed online or comments can be sent in writing to Additional HMO licensing consultation, Salford City Council, Chorley Road, Swinton, Salford, M27 5BY.

The consultation closes on 5 January 2021.

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Date published
Wednesday 14 October 2020

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