Walton Robinson, the Newcastle-based estate and letting agent, has overcome the challenges of pandemic restrictions to help landlords in the city meet new regulations for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO).
Newcastle City Council has extended its licencing requirements for HMOs, which was originally for five-bed properties and above, to additionally include three-and-four-bed rental properties. In some areas of the city selective licencing has also been introduced for one and two-bedroom properties.
As a result, a wave of applications was required to ensure landlords could meet the council’s submission deadline. Originally set for April, the deadline was extended until July as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Walton Robinson completed the majority of around 100 HMO licence applications ahead of the first deadline and completed the remainder this month.
Its team, which was based remotely during the lockdown and continues to have a number home-working, assisted landlords to complete the applications for properties with a combined 268 beds and worth £15m.
Walton Robinson’s property maintenance division will also undertake a programme of remedial works to a number of the HMOs to ensure they meet licencing requirements.
Compliance works includes enhanced fire safety measures in line with the new regulations, which must be completed by 5 October when the city council will assess the properties against the licencing requirements.
Walton Robinson has also supported landlords through its accreditation with Newcastle City Council. This enables licences to be in Walton Robinson’s name, if the property owner consents, which gives landlords a discount on the cost of the licence.
Mark Walton, managing director of Walton Robinson, said: “Our team has worked incredibly hard and adapted well to ensure that a large volume of applications have been submitted ahead of Newcastle City Council’s deadline.
“Even when the lockdown was introduced at the end of March we continued to work towards to April submission date, which we achieved for a large number of our landlords, while taking advantage of the extension to complete the remaining applications.
“This is part of a £200,000 project for Walton Robinson, which, in addition to the application and licence costs, is also generating work for our growing property maintenance division. This part of our business is expanding quickly and providing a valuable service to our landlords.”