NEW rules could see a crackdown on rogue house share landlords.

Coming into force in October, the rule change will require landlords to have a license for all houses under multiple occupancy (HMOs) which are home to five or more people. It could result in a five-fold rise in the number of HMOs requiring a license.

Councillors have welcomed the changes – saying that areas like Broadgreen and Eastcott have already become swamped with house shares.

Currently, HMO landlords only need a council license for shared homes that are at least three storeys high and rented to five or more people who share a toilet, bathroom or kitchen.

But the new rules, which come into force on October 1, will get rid of the height requirement – effectively meaning all larger house shares in Swindon will need to be licensed.

There are currently 120 licensed HMOs in Swindon, but council officers estimate that between 600 and 800 could end up being licensed under the new rules.

In a report compiled for councillors, borough housing chief Mike Ash said: “Due to the nature of Swindon’s housing stock and market, the great majority of HMOs in Swindon will fall under a licensing scheme following these changes, and this will allow for much more effective regulation of the sector.”

A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council added of the rule changes: “When the extension becomes law, the council will look to prosecute any landlords that wilfully fail to apply for a license. Persistent offenders may also be banned from involvement in renting property, and also entered onto the national Rogue Landlords Database, which is currently being set up by the government.”

Broadgreen and Eastcott have been traditional hotspots for HMOs, with residents concerned about associated problems with anti-social behaviour, fly-tipping and parking shortages that the shared houses can bring.

Paul Dixon, ward councillor for Eastcott, said that the tightening up of HMOs did not go far enough.

“I would like to see licencing requirements tightened for all HMOs to reflect the impact these properties have on our local communities,” he said. “An improved licencing scheme could provide protection for tenants and also local communities, but it will need to be properly resourced if it is to be effective.

“The growth of houses of multiple occupation in Swindon has been a growing trend due to rents rapidly increasing above wages. Some people simply cannot afford to rent properties of their own and more needs to be done to provide affordable housing in Swindon.”

South Swindon Parish Council, which covers the town centre, has a presumption against allowing homes to be converted into HMOs. Council chairman Chris Watts said: “The Eastcott and Central areas of Swindon are already beyond the recommended threshold for HMOs.

“We need to be mindful of the the projected increase in low paid warehouse work that will increase the demand for low rent properties.”