Owners of small HMOs across Thurrock to be monitored with licensing scheme 

Thurrock Council is to consider extending a scheme which ensures people living in bedsits are not suffering because of rogue landlords.

Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) with more than five tenants are automatically covered by a mandatory licensing scheme designed to ensure a suitable standard of accommodation.

However, the council introduced a five-year scheme for smaller HMOs with three to four tenants in parts of Thurrock, which is due to end in May. Officers have now recommended renewing the scheme and extending it across the whole borough.

Over the past five years, the scheme has led to the licensing of 220 HMOs, generating more than £432,000 in revenue. Housing officers say the scheme has resulted in higher standards in HMOs by addressing issues like overcrowding and fire safety and it has reduced antisocial behaviour.

The scheme has led to four prosecutions and ten civil penalty notices and there have been 165 improvements made.

The council said a survey it conducted in 2023 showed strong support from tenants for the licensing scheme.

A report to the housing overview and scrutiny committee, which will meet on Tuesday to debate the extension, said: “The scheme, initiated in June 2019, has played a crucial role in improving housing conditions and management standards in smaller HMOs that fall outside the scope of Mandatory Licensing.

“The renewal proposal is based on comprehensive data and analysis, demonstrating the positive impact of the scheme on housing conditions, tenant safety, and community well-being.”

The council’s licensing team can act to keep homes free of significant risks by issuing improvement notices over regulation breaches including the maintenance of appliances and drains and for dirty premises that are prejudicial to health.

The report adds: “The scheme has led to better management and higher standards in HMOs, addressing issues such as overcrowding, fire safety, and other housing hazards. Licensing has made it easier to identify and collaborate with landlords, ensuring safer living conditions for tenants.

“The scheme has contributed to a reduction in anti-social behaviour, noise complaints, and other issues that negatively impact the community.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter