Councils take lead in licensing shared homes
19 Mar 2019
Landlords are being reminded that all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) must have a valid HMO licence or they could face steep penalties under new legislation, due to come into effect next month.
From April 1, local councils will assume the role of licensing authority for HMOs in their area, under The Houses in Multiple Occupation Act (Northern Ireland) 2016. Councils will have enhanced powers to regulate properties to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of tenants.
Under the new scheme, councils can put specific conditions on a licence, take enforcement action or, if necessary, revoke a licence. They can also refuse to issue a new licence if there is over-provision in an area, or if the landlord is not deemed fit.
Councillor Charlene O’Hara, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Licensing Committee said: “Belfast City Council is supportive of the extra assurances the Act gives to residents, tenants and neighbouring properties. Some parts of Belfast have high concentrations of shared accommodation and council welcomes the additional powers this legislation brings to help regulate this sector.”
From April onwards HMO tenants will also be able to check online to make sure their home is licensed properly and can report any issues or concerns to the NI HMO Unit, based in Belfast City Council.