Further consultation on the proposed fee structure for an additional licensing scheme for Houses in Multiple Occupation in 12 central Bristol wards
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Background

The council proposes to introduce an additional licensing scheme of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in the 12 wards that make up central Bristol – Ashley, Bishopston & Ashley Down, Central, Clifton, Clifton Down, Cotham, Easton, Hotwells & Harbourside, Lawrence Hill, Redland, Southville and Windmill Hill.

A public consultation to introduce a proposed additional licensing scheme of HMOs in the 12 central wards of Bristol was undertaken earlier this year. This would affect most HMOs with three or more unrelated people who share a rented property. The consultation finished in May 2018; its findings and the full proposal document have been published on our website bristol.gov.uk/licensingscheme
 
Since we consulted earlier this year, a High Court case (R Gaskin v Richmond-upon-Thames LBC [2018]) has determined that this type of proposed HMO licensing scheme (Part 2, Housing Act 2004) is an authorisation scheme and is subject to European legislation (EU Services Directive 2006). In order to comply with this directive the council is required to review the way it structures the proposed property licence fees.

The original fee structure that formed part of the above consultation was a one-off, overall payment covering all elements of licensing from beginning to end. However, this High Court ruling means that the property licence fee must now be split into two parts:

Part 1- Processing the application: this part of the fee, payable upon application, only covers the cost of obtaining authorisation under the scheme, i.e. processing the licence application.

Part 2 - Enforcement and administration: this part of the fee is levied only on successful applicants, to cover the remaining costs of administration and enforcement.

In addition, in order to comply with the above directive the council will no longer be able to include a significantly increased fee for late applications. The effect is that the cost of licensing proposed is now spread more evenly across the whole of the fee structure.

There has also been a reduction in the numbers of properties now expected to require a licence in the area from 5,500 to 4,300 properties. The reduction is factored into the fee calculation.

As a result of this ruling and the comments from our earlier consultation the council has restructured its fee proposal.
New fee proposal

The overall predicted cost of the scheme over five years is £4.9 million. This cost is broken down into £1.6m for Part 1 and £3.3m for Part 2.

This equates to a split of 33% for part 1 and 67% for part 2. The fees have been apportioned  using these percentages, see Table 1 below.

There is an additional fee of £100 for applicants who are found to be unlicensed.

The council has retained the previously proposed rewards for landlords who provide valid safety certificates (£150) and who are members of the West of England Rent with Confidence scheme (£50) at the time of application.

If additional fee and rewards are due, any addition or reductions to the fee will be applied from when Part 2 of the fee is due. For example, if you have submitted the required certificates and met the Rent with Confidence reward conditions before your Part 2 fee payment request is sent out, the rewards of £150 and £50 will be deducted from the Part 2 fee due.
 
If the council finds your property to be unlicensed the extra £100 due will be added to your Part 2 bill.
Table 1 Fee split
 
Application Status/payment Fee
(% split)3
New application4 Renewal4
Part 1 Processing the application1 33% £414 £348
Part 2 Enforcement and administration2 67% £841 £707
Total 100% £1255 £1055
 
1payable when submitting the licence application
2payable upon successful application  prior to the issuing of the proposed licence
3 the fee is split proportionately to reflect the costs of the relevant parts of the licensing function.
4 Less any rewards of up to £200, plus £100 if found to be unlicensed.
Table 2: Total Fee breakdown
 
Application Status Discount or (Additional Fee) Amount Fee  for New Application Fee for Renewal Application
Licence application - with no discount or additions applied £0 £1,255 £1,055
Minus discount for Rent with Confidence membership only but no safety/EPC certificates £50 £1,205 £1,005
Minus discount for satisfactory safety/EPC certificates but no Rent with Confidence membership £150 £1,105 £905
Minus discount for both Rent with Confidence membership and satisfactory safety/EPC certificates £200 £1,055 £855
Plus Investigation cost for finding unlicensed property  (£100) £1,355 £1,155