FOI Disclosure Log

Customer Request Details

02 October 2018

Can you respond to the following questions extracted from the attached letter

Can you tell me how the fee you charge to license a HMO is calculated?

Can you also confirm that this fee does not include charges for management end enforcement?

Can you tell me the steps taken by the council to prepare for the change in legislation?

Is any help required in preparing for the changes such as policy guidance?

What are the timescales for processing applications?

What publicity has been undertaken to inform landlords of the extension of mandatory licenses?

What publicity has been undertaken to explain how tacit consent will operate if processing goes over the advertised application length?

What reviews have taken place of the HMO fee structure?

What justification is there for any increase in these fees?



East Herts Council Response

02 October 2018

I am writing to acknowledge your written request for information.

Your request is being considered and you will receive the information requested within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing reference to a third party.

The Act defines a number of exemptions, which may prevent release of the information you have requested.  There will be an assessment of your request and if any of the exemption categories apply then the information will not be released.  You will be informed if this is the case, including your rights of appeal.

If the information you request contains reference to a third party then they may be consulted prior to a decision being taken on whether or not to release the information to you.  You will be informed if this is the case.

There may be a fee payable for this information, this will be considered and you will be informed if any fees are payable.  In this event the fee must be paid before the information is processed and released.  The 20 working day time limit for the response is suspended until receipt of payment.

If you have any queries about the processing of your request then please do not hesitate to contact me.

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.

Your personal details will be held within out Information Request case management system, and only used for the purposes of evaluating and processing your request.

While details of your information request may be published on the council website, your personal details will never be published or released to anyone outside the council unless it is required by the Information Commissioners Office.

Thank you for your request.

 



East Herts Council Response

29 October 2018

Thank you for your request for information, this has now been processed and the information that we hold is enclosed.

Can you tell me how the fee you charge to license a HMO is calculated?

The fee was calculated based on the costs (staffing and other) associated with the required elements involved.

Can you also confirm that this fee does not include charges for management end enforcement?

The fee is based only on the elements associated with the HMO licensing function. To date we have not had a situation where a property has been deemed unsuitable as a licensable HMO nor a licence refusal after the payment of a fee. Should this happen in the future the part of the fee not associated with the receipt of a licence application, validation and property inspection would be refunded.

Can you tell me the steps taken by the council to prepare for the change in legislation?

The council has reviewed its HMO licensing procedure and worked with officers to ensure consistency of approach, further work has been undertaken with the local Fire and Rescue service to update our Service Level Agreement and agreed fire safety requirements.

Is any help required in preparing for the changes such as policy guidance?

            Not at this time.

What are the timescales for processing applications?

We have a target maximum time of 7 months from receipt of application although will try to serve the final licence in less time than this where possible.

What publicity has been undertaken to inform landlords of the extension of mandatory licenses?

Landlord forum (including inviting RLA and NLA to support the event)

Updated information on our website and use of social media

Information in council magazine to all households

What publicity has been undertaken to explain how tacit consent will operate if processing goes over the advertised application length?

We have considered tacit consent but believe it is not appropriate as one purpose of licensing is to improve the safety of occupiers

What reviews have taken place of the HMO fee structure?

An adjustment has been made annually through the Councils budgeting process to cover increases in cost and other changes to simplify the charging. Fees are benchmarked with other authorities in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire through a Housing Forum for these authorities.

What justification is there for any increase in these fees?

Any increase in 2019 will be based on changes to the costs, with any additional requirements (eg further requirements for checking applicants) or any available streamlining of processes considered (eg a possible reduction in costs where applicants consent to receiving notices by email).

If you have any queries or complaint about the processing of your request please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Alternatively for more information on the Freedom of Information Act contact the Information Commissioner at:

Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane
Wilmslow
Cheshire
SK9 5AF

Telephone 01625 545 700

https://ico.org.uk/

 

It is important that you include the above FOI reference number on all correspondence related to this request.

 

Thank you for your request.