A major north of England local authority wants to introduce landlord licensing for HMOs where three or four tenants live, following analysis of results from inspections.
Over the past 12 months Salford city council has inspected homes and 92 per cent of them showed problems ranging from missing to inadequate fire alarm systems despite it being a legal requirement, missing or damaged fire doors, inadequate or blocked escape routes and insufficient measures to prevent fire and smoke spreading.
Over a third were damp and/or suffering from mould because of leaky roofs or walls and a third had no or inadequate heating.
When alerted to the dangers, over 80 per cent of landlords or managing agents carried out improvements and removed hazards without the need for formal enforcement action.
However council statistics show complaints about all HMOs have risen from 152 a year in 2015/16 to 265 in 2018/19.
At present only houses where five or more tenants sharing have to be licensed under a mandatory HMO scheme as well as any rented home in the Salford parts of Broughton, Charlestown and Lower Kersal and Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley where selective licensing schemes apply.
Under licensing the landlord, agent or property manager must demonstrate they are a ‘fit and proper person’ to let the property and have suitable management arrangements in place. The licence will also determine the maximum number of occupants to make sure tenants are not living in cramped and overcrowded properties.
This includes all relevant safety checks being carried out regularly and that tenants have bins and know how to properly recycle and dispose of waste. If the landlord fails to licence the property or breaches conditions of the licence and fails to remedy the situation the council can issue civil penalty notices or prosecute.
A council spokeswoman says: “In the last five years conversions to HMOs of all sizes in selective licensing areas have risen by 460 per cent in Eccles, 410 per cent in Langworthy, Weaste and Seedley and 196 per cent in Broughton.
“There is currently no legal requirement for landlords of three and four person HMOs to have their property licenced by the council. An extended licensing scheme to cover these properties would enable us to be sure that people are living in safe and decent conditions and not causing issues for the wider community.”
Salford council has launched a consultation about an additional HMO licensing scheme to see if numbers of three or four person HMOs have increased, if there are any issues as a result and if a licensing scheme should be brought in city-wide.