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GOVERNMENT ENTERS NEXT PHASE IN INTRODUCING HOUSING ACT 2004 MEASURES

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The Government's drive to bring long-term empty homes back into use, improve landlord management of their propertie...
The Government's drive to bring long-term empty homes back into use, improve landlord management of their properties through licensing, as well as increasing the health and safety of dwellings, has entered the next phase with the laying of Statutory Instruments in Parliament today.

These reforming measures included in the Housing Act 2004 will come into force in April 2006.

Housing Minister Baroness Andrews said:

'These measures represent some of the most important reforms of the private rented sector. They will raise management standards in the private rented sector as well as finding ways of bringing empty homes back into use at a time when housing need is at its greatest.'

The new powers contained in Parts 2 to 4 and 7 of the Housing Act

2004 are - (further details in Notes to Editors):

Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) - Will improve controls on HMOs, including mandatory licensing of some of the highest risk properties, which house some of the most vulnerable people, whilst maintaining an adequate supply of rented accommodation.

Management Standards for all HMOs - Will set new minimum management standards applicable to all HMOs.

Selective Licensing - Will help councils improve local communities by making licensing schemes for privately rented accommodation in areas suffering or likely to suffer from low housing demand or where there is a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour.

Special Interim Management Orders - will enable local authorities to make special interim management orders with the approval of the Residential Property Tribunal to tackle isolated, but serious problems of anti-social behaviour without the need to make a selective licensing scheme.

Empty Dwelling Management Orders - Will provide councils with additional powers to secure occupation of privately owned homes left empty for more than six months without good reason.

Further measures under the Housing Act to safeguard tenants' deposits are scheduled to come into force in October.

Notes

1. The Housing Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 8 December 2003 and received Royal Assent on 18 November 2004.

2. In June and July 2003, the ODPM Select Committee held an inquiry into the draft Bill. Its report was published on 22 July and the Government's response was published on 10 November. The response can be found at: www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1150666

3. Consultations were held in 2004-2005 on the proposals for regulations governing HMO licensing and selective licensing. The consultation papers and Government responses on licensing can be found at:

www.odpm.gov.uk/index.asp?id=1157187.

Consultation on Empty Dwelling Management Orders were held in 2003 and 2005. The consultation papers and Government responses can be found at www.odpm.gov.uk/emptyhomes

4. The Housing Health and Safety Rating System (England) Regulations

2005 (SI 2005/ were laid on 28 November 2005. Implementation is on track for 6 April.

5. Further instruments are being prepared to come into force on 6 April, including commencement orders and transitional arrangements for the Housing Health and Safety Rating System and for existing HMO registration schemes., instruments relating to the licensing and management of converted blocks of flats that were not built in compliance with the relevant building regulations, the operation of Residential Property Tribunals and approved codes of practice for student accommodation. Further measures under the Housing Act to safeguard tenants' deposits are scheduled to come into force in October.

Seven statutory instruments have been laid today:

6. The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Prescribed Descriptions) (England) Regulations 2006 sets out the scope of mandatory licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), namely that licensing must apply to those HMOs that comprise 3 or more storeys and are occupied by 5 or more occupiers in 2 or more households.

7. The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 sets out various provisions relating to HMO and selective licensing, and management orders. These include detailed provisions on the content of application forms for licenses, information to be held on public registers, and the publicity requirement for designations or revocations of additional licensing or selective licensing schemes.

The regulations also specify for the purpose of the HMO definition the additional circumstances in which persons are to be treated as forming part of the same household and when they are to be treated as occupying property as their only or main residence and also specifies those types of buildings regulated by other provisions that do not come under the definition. In addition the regulations specify the national minimum amenity standards acceptable for licensed HMOs.

8. The Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England) Regulations 2006 replace The Housing (Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation) Regulations 1990, and set out minimum management standards for all HMOs.

9. The Selective Licensing of Houses (Specified Exemptions) (England) Order 2006 specifies the types of tenancies and licences that are exempt from the Selective Licensing provisions in Part 3 of the Act.

10. The Housing (Interim Management Orders) (Prescribed

circumstances) (England) Order 2006 deals with the circumstances in which a residential property tribunal can give a local authority authorization to take over the management of individual private rented properties which give rise to significant anti-social behaviour problems in the neighbourhood.

11. The Housing (Empty Dwelling Management Orders) (Prescribed Exceptions and Requirements) (England) Order 2006 specifies the circumstances when dwellings are excepted from the new power in the Housing Act for local authorities to make EDMOs. The Act providesthat all unoccupied dwellings are excepted for at least six months.

The Order specifies 10 additional exceptions covering matters such as temporary absence, second homes, and dwellings on the market and other circumstances where a dwelling is not occupied for good reason.

The Order also sets out the procedures local authorities must comply with in seeking approval from a Residential Property Tribunal to make an interim EDMO.

12. The Housing (Management Orders and Empty Dwelling Management

Orders) (Supplemental Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006 enables local housing authorities to deal with ground rent, service and other charges demanded in respect of any leasehold properties on which they make management or empty dwelling management orders.

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