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Swindon Borough Council is planning a crackdown on HMO investments, with new rules coming into force in October.
The change in regulation will require buy to let property investors to obtain a licence for all houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) which are home to five or more residents. This is likely to result in a five-fold increase in the number of HMOs that require a licence.
The changes have been welcomed by the local council, who have drawn attention to the fact that areas such as Broadgreen and Eastcott are home to many house-shares. Residents in these areas have expressed concerns about problems associated with shared housing, such as anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and parking shortages.
In the current regulatory environment, HMO landlords only require a council licence for shared homes that are at least three storeys high and are let to five or more people who share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen. The new rules, set to come into force on October 1, will get rid of the height requirement, meaning that many more HMOs will need to be licensed.
There are currently 120 licensed HMOs in Swindon. However, council officers estimate that between 600 and 800 could end up being licensed under the new rules.
Borough housing chief Mike Ash said: ‘Due to the nature of Swindon’s housing stock and market, the great majority of HMOs in Swindon will fall under a licensing scheme following these changes, and this will allow for much more effective regulation of the sector.’
A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council added: ‘When the extension becomes law, the council will look to prosecute any landlords that wilfully fail to apply for a licence. Persistent offenders may also be banned from involvement in renting property, and also entered onto the national Rogue Landlords Database, which is currently being set up by the government.’