Better protection for Bristol’s renters

Better protection for Bristol’s renters

Bristol’s renters will get greater protection under new property licensing requirements that will be introduced to three areas of the city to improve housing standards.

15 December 2021

Bristol City Council’s Cabinet has approved plans to introduce licensing requirements to landlords of certain properties in Brislington West, Bedminster and Horfield.

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.

The Housing Act 2004 allows local authorities to require landlords of some 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 and in St George West, 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.

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

“We have evidence that shows that licensing schemes have proved to be successful across the city, and we are really pleased that we are going to now be able to improve standards of accommodation and tackle bad management practices in three more wards.

“While we know that there are landlords providing good quality rented accommodation, we are aware that a significant number of HMOs not covered by mandatory licensing are being poorly managed and maintained in these areas.

“We now have extra powers to take action, and we would encourage all landlords to work with us to help protect vulnerable tenants and make people across the city more comfortable in their homes.”

A 10-week public consultation about the proposals ran earlier this year, which found that 58.65 per cent of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that the proposed licensing schemes would help to resolve poor management and poor conditions of private rented properties in the proposed three wards.

Landlords will now be charged a fee for licensing their properties. 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. Where landlords do not meet the required condition standards, enforcement action may follow.

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 the minimum standards of accommodation their landlord should provide. 

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