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Better protection for Bristol's renters

Better protection for Bristol's renters

Renters will have greater protection under a new property licensing scheme that has gone live in three areas of the city this week.

7 April 2022

Bristol City Council’s Cabinet approved plans to introduce licensing requirements to landlords of certain properties in Brislington West, Bedminster and Horfield in December, with the aim of improving housing standards.

The proposed schemes cover two types of licensing:

  • Additional Licensing will include houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) - a house or flat that is occupied by three or more unrelated people who live together and share facilities including kitchens or bathrooms.
  • Selective Licensing will include private rented properties that are occupied by one or two tenants, or a family, but are not HMOs.

Additional licensing will apply in all three wards, while the selective licensing will be in Brislington West and Bedminster only. 

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to require landlords of most privately rented accommodation to license their properties. Licensing can be applied to specific areas of the city where evidence suggests there is poor quality, or poorly-managed, private-rented housing.

Following the success of the licensing schemes in Stapleton Road, Easton; St George West and Eastville; and 12 wards in the centre of the city, the council is looking to further improve both the accommodation, conditions and management practices in privately-rented and multiple-occupied properties in these three wards.

Councillor Tom Renhard, Cabinet Member for Housing Delivery and Homes, said: “We take the wellbeing of people renting properties across the city very seriously and we want everyone to feel confident that their home is safe and fit for habitation.

“Property licensing is one of a number of tools we are using to make sure all rented properties in the city are up to a certain standard.

“Living in a home that is in poor condition, or being badly managed, can have a significant negative impact on the health and wellbeing of tenants.

“Although most private landlords provide a good standard of accommodation and service to their tenants, many do not. Some houses are in poor condition and poorly managed, with a significant number let to vulnerable tenants who are unaware of their rights or are not aware of the minimum standards of accommodation their landlord should provide.

“We are clear that the small minority of rogue landlords and property agents who knowingly flout their legal obligations, rent out accommodation which is substandard and harass their tenants, should be prevented from managing or letting housing.

“We will continue to lead the way in doing what we can to protect and empower people living in privately rented housing, including having a strong voice nationally to hold government to account on the long-delayed renters reform bill.

“We would encourage all landlords to apply for the relevant licenses and to work with us to help protect vulnerable tenants and make people across the city more comfortable in their homes.”

The council has also taken another step to help protect renters in the city, making it easier to add rogue landlords to a national database.

The council’s Cabinet recently voted to approve a new policy that will allow it to add landlords into the government’s Rogue Landlord database when a banning order has been issued against the landlord, and decide how long they should be on the database for. The length of a ban can range from two years up to an indefinite or lifetime ban.

Landlords have until Tuesday 5 July to submit their applications and pay their fee. A licence will normally last for five years and conditions will be attached to the licence to ensure that minimum property standards are met and that good management practice is delivered.

Advice and guidance on the necessary improvements required to ensure the property complies with licensing conditions is also offered. All licensed properties are inspected to ensure they meet licensing and minimum housing standards.  Where landlords do not meet the required condition standards, enforcement action may follow.

Find out more about the scheme.

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