Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council cracks down on illegal house shares

PUBLISHED: 14:03 23 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:11 23 May 2019

Recent HMO inspections, around the borough, revealed rubbish piled high. Picture: WHBC

Recent HMO inspections, around the borough, revealed rubbish piled high. Picture: WHBC

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Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council is cracking down on illegal house shares in the area, it has been announced.

The oven is also from a HMO inspection. Picture: WHBC.The oven is also from a HMO inspection. Picture: WHBC.

The council is targeting landlords, who operate houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), that they regard as 'unscrupulous'.

"The vast majority of the borough's landlords operate responsibly, but there is a small minority that don't and this can put their tenants at risk," Sian Chambers, head of community and housing strategy at WHBC, said.

Council teams are carrying out checks on all suspected HMOs as part of its plans to improve standards in the private rented sector.

Ms Chambers urges landlords "without a licence to speak with us now to avoid potential enforcement action being taken against them.

The heating system was photographed by the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. Picture: WHBCThe heating system was photographed by the Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council. Picture: WHBC

"Residents can also report HMOs anonymously to us, so if you have any suspicions about a house down your street, please get in touch."

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If a landlord is found to have operated a house share illegally, they can face criminal prosecution or a civil penalty fine of up to £30,000.

HMO's need licences if rented to five or more people, who are not part of the same family, and where more than one of tenants share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities.

Recent HMO inspections, around the borough, revealed rubbish piled high. Picture: WHBCRecent HMO inspections, around the borough, revealed rubbish piled high. Picture: WHBC

A licence to operate a HMO house can range from £954 to £1,174, depending on the amount of occupants, and lasts up to five years.

Other fees, such as an immigration inspection and a housing act notice, can also be added to the cost of a HMO.

If you are a landlord and are unsure if you need a licence - or are a resident with concerns about a HMO - Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council asks that you contact them by phone on 01707 357672 or email housingandcommunity@welhat.gov.uk.

Landlords that join a Partnership Accreditation for Landlords (PAL) scheme, which recognises landlords and letting agents who are meeting their legal obligations - and those that go above and beyond to provide good quality rented homes, can reduce their HMO licence fee by 10 per cent.

You can apply on pal-online.org.uk or call 01707 357 366.

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