New policies target improvement in private rentals

Standards in private rented accommodation are set to improve thanks to a raft of new Council policies.

The four new documents, which focus on energy efficiency and the licencing arrangements that cover houses of multiple occupation, were signed off by Councillor Chris Penberthy, Cabinet member for Housing, on Thursday.

The policies are being delivered as part of a Council pledge, which promises to toughen up enforcement of housing in the private rented sector to drive up standards for renters.

Councillor Penberthy said:  "We know that most landlords in Plymouth take seriously the responsibilities they have towards their tenants.”  

"What these policies do is ensure is that the small minority who take their tenants for a ride cannot fall through the cracks; cannot make excuses and most importantly; cannot exploit the people who pay them hundreds of pounds a month in rent.”

"We said we would drive standards in the private rented sector up and with policies like these, that's exactly what we're doing."

Perhaps the most important of the four new policies is the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards  Policy which will help to keep tenants in private rented accommodation warm, will lower energy bills, reduce fuel poverty and health inequalities and of course, reduce carbon emissions.

It also contains information to advise landlords and tenants of the current requirements and what enforcement measures there can be for non-compliance. 

Next are three new policies which cover the licencing of HMOs. The first, the HMO Licencing Policy, is an updated version of a previous policy and takes into account new legislation,  making it clearer on how landlords should comply with legal duties. 

The purpose of HMO licensing is to raise the standards of accommodation for shared properties, which can often house some of the most vulnerable persons in our society.

The other two policies focus on fees for HMO licence applications. One introduces a two stage payment structure, increasing fairness to potential landlords by only charging the second stage fee for successful applications. 

The other ensures that landlords of HMO accommodation contained in converted block buildings, and are subject to mandatory HMO licensing (including student accommodation), will have to pay an appropriate licensing fee for their applications. Appropriate fees and the application of increased regulation ensures that landlords of HMOs, large or small, are treated fairly.

More information for tenants and landlords can be found at: www.plymouth.gov.uk/housing/privaterentedaccommodation