Landlords hit back: the Housing Bill going through Parliament will introduce mandatory licensing of higher risk multiple-occupancy dwellings in areas of high demand. The author claims that the campaign for licensing has been accompanied by exaggerated and unfounded criticisms of landlords and an erroneous allegation that occupiers of HMOs are at far higher risk of death or injury from fire than in other dwellings.(Fire safety: HMOs)

According to Government estimates, there are around 750,000 people in the UK entitled to describe themselves as 'landlords', providing around ten per cent of the nation's housing stock. The Government claims it wants to encourage the private rented sector, with ministers taking every opportunity to proclaim that the private-rented sector plays a vital role in providing affordable housing for younger, mobile professionals and for the vulnerable who have no alternative.

So what is the Government doing, rather than saying, to help this industry that it claims is so vital? The answer, regrettably, is very little, unless one happens to believe that a veritable avalanche of further regulation and legislation is essential to correct abuses, which undeniably exist on a small scale in certain sectors of the market. The primary example is the Housing Bill, currently before Parliament. Ostensibly to help the private-rented sector, among other measures this Bill will introduce mandatory licensing of allegedly higher-risk HMOs in areas of high demand, and discretionary licensing elsewhere. …

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