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One of the key aims of HMO licensing is to ensure that the accommodation provided is safe, of good quality, and has sufficient facilities for the number of occupants. This section sets out the factors which must be considered, together with examples of physical standards which it is recommended that local authorities apply in their assessment of living accommodation, on receipt of an application and as part of their enforcement activity. Technical details relating to the suggested standards are included in Annex A.

4.3.2   It should be noted that these standards are intended to provide reference points to help local authorities determine whether living accommodation in respect of which an HMO licence has been applied for, or has been granted, is suitable (or remains suitable) for occupation as an HMO.  They should be applied flexibly, with the local authority taking into account whatever material it considers relevant in assessing the suitability of the accommodation in accordance with section 131 of the 2006 Act.

4.3.3   Appropriate standards may vary, depending on the circumstances of each case, and authorities should bear in mind the possibility of achieving the same level of accommodation or safety through different packages of measures. Licensing officers should always give consideration to alternative approaches proposed by the owner. In adopting and applying standards, licensing authorities should keep in mind the need to achieve a suitable level of accommodation which is safe and secure without placing a disproportionate burden on the owners of HMOs.

4.3.4   In general, local authorities should ensure that all licence applications are treated equally and fairly, regardless of whether the application is for accommodation which has not previously been licensed, or which has had a licence for some time.  However, a flexible approach should be taken; in some cases, such as where an HMO has been operating with a licence for some time, it may be considered suitable for a new licence even if it does not meet certain of the standards which the authority would normally wish to apply to new accommodation or accommodation which has not previously been licensed.

4.3.5   It may be appropriate for the local authority to balance the likely expense of any work required and the contribution that it would make to the safety of occupiers. This is a matter for the local authority to determine what is appropriate or necessary in the context of a particular case. For example it may consider that it is more proportionate to require inexpensive work that contributes to occupier safety, such as installing a CO detector, than expensive work that does not impact on occupier safety but may improve facilities such as requiring additional kitchen or bathroom facilities or electrical outlets, where the existing facilities are functioning and in reasonable condition.

4.3.6   In such cases, authorities may still decide to grant the licence, but may consider imposing licence conditions which would enable the accommodation to be upgraded during the period of the licence.  Some examples of circumstances in which this might be desirable are included in the coverage  of individual standards below.

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