Agents with landlord clients operating HMOs beware – Brighton and Hove Council is urging the government to treat them as enterprises and enable councils to charge business rates on their ‘premises’.
The city’s Labour administration has just announced that it is preparing to write to the government to introduce such measures as it struggles to finance the policing of its huge HMO property market, which is driven largely by the city’s 30,00-strong student population.
Business rates last year brought in in £2.7 billion for the government, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, which means the average charge was £1,516 for each of the UK’s 1.8 million eligible premises.
According to Brighton and Hove’s Labour group a new levy would create a level taxation playing field for HMOs with hotels, self-catering holiday homes and short-term lets while helping to control the city’s vast HMO market of more than 15,000 properties.
A Labour party spokesperson told The Evening Argus that the support of rival political parties in the area would be sought before presenting the proposals to central government. The chances of that happening look relatively slim, though. Conservative group leader Geoffrey Theobald believes landlords will pass the extra costs on to tenants, while National HMO Network chairman Paul Fitzgerald (pictured) told the paper that HMOs “are no more a business than a single buy-to-let”.
The main thrust of the Labour campaign appears to be a way of raising funds to pay for the enforcement of existing HMO regulation in the city which, if the proposals were to be introduced, would raise approximately £22.5 million a year.