Thurrock Council is warning private landlords renting shared houses or flats in the borough to ensure their properties are licensed correctly.
The council’s Private Housing team held a day of action on Wednesday 20 November in Corringham, and another a week later on Tuesday 3 December in Purfleet, to crack down on private landlords renting unlicensed shared houses or flats to three or four unrelated people – known as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).
In Corringham, the team undertook 50 visits, identified 5 suspected HMOs and found a bed in a shed with someone suspected of living in substandard conditions. A further 50 dwellings were visited in Purfleet and 2 unlicensed HMOs were detected.
Since Saturday 1 June 2019, certain areas of Thurrock with higher numbers of shared houses or flats being privately rented to 3 or 4 unrelated tenants must be licensed under the council’s additional licensing scheme. Under these regulations, landlords have to comply with national health and safety standards and local criteria before a 5-year licence is granted. Those who are not licensed could be prosecuted and receive an unlimited fine or be served with a civil penalty notice.
This scheme complements existing UK-wide mandatory licensing, which applies to homes rented to 5 or more unrelated people.
Cllr Barry Johnson, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "By working with landlords to ensure privately rented homes are safe and well managed, we can ensure that those living in shared flats and houses have access to a good quality and safe home.
"We will continue to work proactively with our partners to tackle unlicensed HMOs, bad practise by landlords such as overcrowding and poor property maintenance, and protect tenants' rights."
You can report concerns about a HMO property at thurrock.gov.uk/hmo