Lewisham Council has launched a scheme to try and improve living conditions for those living in Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

HMOs will now require a license to operate and will go through an inspection before being approved.

A spokesperson from the council said that this “will help improve the quality of housing across Lewisham and help us protect residents from rogue landlords”.

This license applies to all HMOs in Lewisham which are not covered by the national mandatory scheme - which only deals with large HMOs.

Your property is defined as a large HMO if it is rented to five or more people who form more than one household some or all tenants share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities at least one tenant pays rent.

A smaller HMO is a property rented out by at least three people who are not from one ‘household’ (for example a family) but share facilities like the bathroom and kitchen.

They are sometimes referred to as house shares.

An additional 6,000 of these HMOs in the borough will now need a license in order to operate and Lewisham Council hopes that this will help tackle poor quality housing.

HMOs covered by the scheme will be required to meet set standards for room sizes, provision of shared facilities and health and safety.

The council is urging HMO landlords who have not yet applied to do so in order to avoid the risk of enforcement action.  

One in four Lewisham residents are currently living in the private rented sector.

It is hoped that this will help ensure safe, secure and well-managed properties for tenants that are privately renting.

Landlords on the scheme will also be required to present clear plans to tackle any problems related to their properties that have an impact on the local community, such as fly-tipping.

Those who fail to comply with the new scheme will face enforcement action which includes the risk of a fine or criminal prosecution.

Councillor Sophie Davis, Cabinet Member for Housing Management and Homelessness, said: "Too many private renters are having to deal with unsafe or insecure accommodation - particularly those living in HMOs.

“Licensing HMOs will help improve the quality of housing across Lewisham and help us protect our residents from rogue landlords.

"Hundreds of HMO landlords have already come forward to register their property, enabling us to carry out inspections and ensure they meet our high standards.

“We will be working pro-actively to ensure that every eligible HMO is licensed and will take action against those landlords who fail to comply.”

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