Camden Council’s report that was released last month found that tenants living in 8,585 HMOs in the area complained of black mould, defective toilets, faulty electric circuits posing electrocution risks, collapsed ceilings and dangerous sleeping quarters.
In the wake of the report finding that 85 per cent of private renters, including 9 of the 12 landlords who responded to the survey, stated more could be done to improve living standards, council bosses are now considering new rules.
These rules include requiring all landlords to apply for a licence before converting any property into a HMO, regardless of its size.
However, it was asked by The Mistoria Group if tougher legislation could actually improve living conditions.
Commenting on the development, Mish Liyanage, Managing Director of The Mistoria Group said: “Across the UK, properties are being converted into HMOs by predominantly professional property developers and investors. However, there are a few HMO landlords that are providing extremely poor and dangerous housing and not a week goes by, without a HMO landlord hitting the headlines.
“In fact, earlier this month a Croydon landlord and agent were fined £3,000 plus £2,500 in court costs, after being found guilty of running an unlicensed HMO, where seven people were rescued from a fire. They had failed to register the property, which had five paying tenants at the time of the fire.
“Some HMO landlords are also charging tenants excessive fees for non-specific administration including credit checks (which are often not carried out); the lease; inventory preparation; and finally, the check-out. Due to the supply and demand issues in some areas of the country, landlords can make extra, or inflated charges, because the tenants have no choice if they wish to rent a property. Students are particularly vulnerable to these bad practices, as they are usually first time renters and are unaware of correct procedures.
“It’s a sad fact that many tenants are getting a raw deal and the problem of rogue HMO landlords is getting worse, as demand for cheap rental property increases across the UK. The new trend of ‘Hutching Up’, which involves young people squeezing into smaller accommodation to meet soaring rental costs, is driving demand for more HMO properties.
“As a company that fervently believes in providing high quality accommodation, we believe further legislation is a good thing for raising the standards of HMO accommodation. We also think that landlords and agents who are accredited by their local council should receive a discount when they are applying for HMO and selective licenses.
“We strongly recommend that both landlords and students use a letting agency which has extensive experience in managing HMOs. This will ensure the properties are maintained as per the legal standards and safety of tenants is guaranteed. The real benefit from landlords is that they can avoid being prosecuted and fined up to £20,000.”
This article first appeared on Today’s Landlord on 20th October 2014.