The Private Rented Sector (PRS) in England has grown from 1 in 10 households in 2004 to 1 in 5 households in 2017. Local data for Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) gathered in 2017 indicated that the PRS in BANES is higher than the national average and growing quickly, now accounting for 27% of dwellings in the district. In addition, recent stock modelling indicated that 21% of the privately rented Homes in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) fell below the minimum statutory housing standard.
Bath and North East Somerset Council has been running an Additional Licensing scheme for HMOs in and around 3 wards within the Bath City area since 2013. After a review of the scheme and other data around the PRS more widely, the Council proposed the introduction of an Additional Licensing scheme for HMOs across the whole of the Bath City area. Additional Licensing would mean that landlords would be required to licence properties where 3 or more people, from 2 or more households live in a property (of any size), with a shared amenity. This would require all HMOs in the Bath City area to be licensed (with some exceptions).
The Housing Act 2004 requires that before making a designation, a Council needs to undertake a formal consultation process on any proposal and take reasonable steps to consult with persons likely to be affected. BANES Council appointed M·E·L Research to undertake a 10 week consultation from 6th March to the 25th May 2018. There were four key methods of gathering views for the consultation: an online survey, a residents’ survey, public meetings and stakeholder interviews. In total, 910 responses were received: 617 from the residents’ survey and 293 from the online survey.
We provided a full consultation report presenting the results from the different research elements, along with levels of support amongst landlords/agents and private rented tenants. A designation has subsequently been made by the Council, with the scheme live in January 2019. Elements of the scheme were tweaked from the original proposal, taking on board comments made in the consultation.