A COUNCIL is making a move to force licences on thousands more HMOs in a bid to drive out rogue landlords. 

Sandwell Council is planning to widen the net so landlords with smaller homes of multiple occupation (HMOs) will be required to apply for a £1,000 licence.

The borough-wide scheme aims to improve standards and safety in HMOs and address anti-social behaviour, according to the council. 

The new rules would see HMOs across Sandwell with three or more people now requiring a five-year £1,000 licence. HMOs with five or more people already require a licence from the council. 

An estimated 3,000 properties would require a licence under the new rules, according to Sandwell Council. 

A report, which will be discussed by Sandwell Council’s cabinet on June 19, said: “Our aim is that over the five year period, the licensing scheme will improve housing conditions, reduce significant persistent problems caused by anti-social behaviour, including modern-day slavery and human trafficking, and [lead to] an increase in good landlords and an elimination of rogue landlords.”

HMOs are properties containing three or more people forming two or more households where facilities, such as kitchens and bathrooms, are shared. 

The licence states that landlords must keep their property appropriately managed, safe and well maintained, as well as deal with any problems associated with the property such as dumped rubbish, untidy gardens or anti-social behaviour.

“The borough has faced a major increase in private rented accommodation in some areas and it is recognised that there are landlords and agents who do not provide adequate accommodation or management of their properties,” the cabinet report continued.

“This poor management of properties has a significant impact on people’s lives and on council and partner resources in tackling issues such as anti-social behaviour, fly tipping of domestic waste, concerns about property condition and harassment and illegal eviction. 

“The council has implemented a range of powers and approaches to seek to address many of these issues including additional licensing within parts of West Bromwich, but the ongoing pressures are such that an expansion of this approach is considered necessary.”

Sandwell Council agreed to introduce similar measures on HMOs in West Bromwich in 2022 but the regulations would now be extended to the entire borough.

The council will double the number of staff dealing with the extra HMO applications from two to four. 

However, the cabinet report also outlines the risk that it could cost the council more money in compliance and enforcement costs if there is a low take-up by landlords – as seen in the last two years in West Bromwich.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet meets in Oldbury on June 19 to discuss the plans.