Proposal for property licensing schemes in Bedminster, Brislington West and Horfield

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What we are proposing

 
What we are proposing
  • Horfield ward is declared an additional licensing area
  • Bedminster ward is declared a joint additional and selective area
  • Brislington West ward is declared a joint additional and selective area
This is a map of Bristol and its 34 wards with their boundaries. The ward highlighted in blue is Horfield ward which is a proposed area for Additional licensing; in red/ yellow (tbc) is Bedminster ward which is a proposed area for both additional and selective licensing; in red/yellow (tbc)  is Brislington West ward which is a proposed area for both additional and selective licensing; in green are the wards of Eastville and St George West which have an existing Additional and Selective licensing scheme; in orange there are twelve wards which make up the existing additional licensing scheme in Ashley, Bishopston and Ashley Down; Central, Clifton, Clifton Down, Cotham, Easton, Hotwells & Harbourside, Lawrence Hill, Redland, Southville and Windmill Hill wards.

Further information and a detailed map showing the extent of the proposed area is available in the Proposal Booklet.
 
If the licensing scheme goes ahead, we propose it would start in late 2021. It would apply to all private rented houses or flats in Bedminster and Brislington West wards and to all HMOs in Horfield ward.

The Housing Act 2004 allows Councils to set a fee for property licences and says that the Council may take into account all costs incurred by the authority in carrying out the licensing function. The Council cannot make a profit from licence fees.
  • The predicted cost for the Additional Licensing scheme is £790,000.
  • The predicted cost for the Selective Licensing scheme is £1.44 million.
The fees proposed are for a licence which will normally last for five years and the fee is fixed for the five year scheme period. There are no other costs or fees to pay after the correct fee has been paid.

The fee structure proposed is designed to allow the Council to recover the costs of the licensing function. There are two parts to the process of setting out the proposed fee structure:
  • Part 1 covers the average cost of granting or refusing an application. This part of the fee is payable at the time of submitting the application. Applications cannot be accepted without payment.
  • Part 2 covers the enforcement of the licence scheme requirements and general scheme administration costs. It is payable only for licences which are proposed to be granted and is not payable if the licence application is refused.
Under the legislation, we can charge a fee for licensing a property to cover the costs of running the scheme. This fee is a one off payment normally covering five years.

The proposed fee structure is illustrated in the following table.

Table 1: Table of fees payable for  additional licensing scheme
Application Status Part 1 Fee   Part 2 Fee   Total
Licence application and fee* received within deadline with no discounts £1,000 £300 £1,300
With £150 discount for satisfactory safety/EPC certificates1 £1,000 £150 £1,150
With £150 discount for WoE Rent with Confidence membership2 £1,000 £150 £1,150
With £300 discount for both WoE Rent with Confidence membership and satisfactory safety/EPC certificates £1,000 £0 £1,000
With £100 additional "Found Unlicensed Fee"3 £1,000 £400 £1,400

*NB An application is not valid unless accompanied by the relevant fee.

1 Discounts will be awarded where bona fide satisfactory Electrical, Gas, (if applicable) safety and Energy Performance certificates are submitted before the licence is issued or within 3 months of the licence being issued.
2 Discounts will be awarded where the landlord or agent is a member of an accreditation scheme provided by an approved provider under the West of England Rent with Confidence scheme at the time of the application.
3 An additional found unlicensed fee will be added where the application is not made on time. No discounts are available if this fee is due.

Refunds of fees paid will only refunded when the property licensed didn’t require a licence at the time of application.

Payments are only acceptable via credit or debit card, except where an applicant can show that they have an impairment that makes using this payment method unreasonable.

Part 2 payments must be paid within 28 days of request for payment, otherwise the property will be considered unlicensed.

Licensing enables the council to inspect every private rented property included in the designation – in this case HMOs – and ensure that the management and conditions meet licensing standards and conditions. Time is given to the landlord to do any necessary work to bring the property up to licensing standard but if they do not comply, they could be prosecuted.
Table 2: Table of Selective licence fees payable
Application Status Part 1 Fee   Part 2 Fee   Total
Licence application and fee* received within deadline with no discounts £499 £300 £799
With £150 discount for satisfactory safety/EPC certificates1 £499 £150 £649
With £150 discount for WoE Rent with Confidence membership2 £499 £150 £649
With £300 discount for both WoE Rent with Confidence membership and satisfactory safety/EPC certificates £499 £0 £499
With £100 additional "Found Unlicensed Fee"3 £499 £400 £899

*NB An application is not valid unless accompanied by the relevant fee.

1 Discounts will be awarded where bona fide satisfactory Electrical, Gas, (if applicable) safety and Energy Performance certificates are submitted before the licence is issued or within 3 months of the licence being issued.
2 Discounts will be awarded where the landlord or agent is a member of an accreditation scheme provided by an approved provider under the West of England Rent with Confidence scheme at the time of the application.
3 An additional found unlicensed fee will be added where the application is not made on time. No discounts are available if this fee is due.
Who would be affected?

All landlords of all privately rented properties in the Bedminster and Brislington West wards and to all landlords of HMOs in the Horfield ward would have to apply for a property licence.

Without a licence, landlords would not be allowed to rent these properties and could be prosecuted.

It would also affect tenants and other residents and businesses in the local area by raising the standards of private rented accommodation and management.
 
Who would not be affected?
This proposal relates to Additional (in Bedminster, Brislington West and Horfield wards) and Selective (in Bedminster and Brislington west wards) Licensing only.  It only concerns privately rented properties so does not include owner occupied property nor social housing.

Some HMOs in these areas are already covered by mandatory licensing (HMOs with five or more persons, in two or more households) and they would not also need an additional licence.

Certain types of buildings or parts of buildings are not HMOs for the purpose of Licensing.  Schedule 14 of the Housing Act 2004 sets out in detail the properties that are exempt. Exempt properties include:
  • Buildings managed or owned by public sector bodies. (i.e. local authority housing, and properties managed or owned by registered social landlords, police authorities, Fire and Rescue authorities and the NHS)
  • Buildings where the residential accommodation is ancillary to the principal use of the building i.e. caretakers accommodation
  • Buildings occupied by religious communities
  • Student accommodation managed and controlled by educational establishments
  • Buildings regulated otherwise than under the Act, such as care homes
  • Bail Hostels
  • Hostels - the description of which is specified by law
  • Buildings entirely occupied by freeholders or long leaseholders
  • Buildings occupied by owners
  • Buildings occupied by no more than two unrelated people
  • Buildings occupied by a resident landlord with no more than two lodgers
  • Buildings which are Housing Co-operatives
Why have we chosen these areas

Introducing Discretionary Licensing schemes in an area can help where a significant number of properties are in poor condition and/or are being badly managed.

In 2019 the council commissioned the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to undertake a Housing Stock Modelling Report for us. The evidence from this report, together with the council’s own records, highlights where discretionary licensing should next be targeted for property licensing schemes (excluded those areas licensing schemes are current operational).
  • Where the number of category 1 hazards (the minimum standard for housing), exceeds the average in Bristol PRS stock (12%)
  • Above average levels of disrepair are present 
  • These criteria would be combined with the wards with the highest concentrations of PRS stock.
Bedminster and Brislington West have the highest concentration of all category 1 hazards at 17% and 18% and disrepair at 6% and 5%. Both wards have high levels of low income households and fuel poverty. The private rented stock in these wards accounts for 29% and 25% of the total stock, well above the national average of 19%.

Horfield ward has a particularly high concentration of HMOs at 41%. Given that HMOs are generally found to be in the worst condition, this high level of stock in the Horfield ward would justify targeted intervention. Horfield has a level of 13% of Category 1 hazards and 4% of disrepair. Outside of the current license areas, Horfield also has the highest level of reported breaches in Management Conditions.

Please see the proposal document for more information.