We have a number of members who are very concerned that conditions are being placed on HMO licences and occupancy numbers are being reduced. There are many 5 bed properties applying for the Mandatory HMO Licence that they need which are being given a 1-year licence on condition they are reduced to 4 bed HMO"s after that - we are told by a PCC employee that this has happened to at least 130 properties in the city - easy money for PCC as they take the licence fee and then change the house such that it does not need a licence. These conditions do not apply elsewhere and this is forcing up rents in Portsmouth in relation to neighbouring areas. It is also leaving rooms empty at a time of housing crisis.
PCC officers have been very busy inspecting licensed HMOs and are taking a hard line following the First-tier Tribunal decision in their favour regarding their demands for more communal space than any other local authority we have seen. Members have seen the adjudication in a similar case in Manchester where the Tribunal stated that the HMO in question was "suitable for occupation by not more than 6 occupants". Under PCC standards this property would not get a licence for 5 occupants.
We are in contact with experienced Environmental Health practitioners, solicitors and barristers. They think we have various grounds for a Judicial Review (JR) against PCC but this is not a move we will consider lightly. Just because PCC did not comply with the Government Regulators" Code on various counts and solicitors and other experts think our Tribunal Judges "came to its decision wrongly and unlawfully" does not automatically mean that an expensive (for both sides) and time consuming JR would result in the standards being altered. Objecting to their failure to consult on policy changes that have serious consequences for local businesses and rents may however result in a proper consultation and enable us to argue for parity with other Local Authorities and produce expert evidence from Environmental Health practitioners.
Also, if you are one of 130+ who have had their property reduced from 5 beds to 4 beds and thus no longer requires a licence, do remember to request a refund of the fees as it appears that this is not automatic.
Written & oral information and advice from the Portsmouth & District Private Landlord's Association is given in good faith, but no responsibility whatsoever is accepted by the Association or it's officers for the accuracy of it's information & advice nor shall the Association be held responsible for the consequences of reliance upon such information.