BURNLEY Council officers are looking to identify more 'bedsits' in the borough after government changes to legislation.

From October 1, the mandatory licensing scheme for so-called houses in multiple occupation (HMO) – or bedsits – has been expanded from building three or more storeys high to include buildings with one or two storeys.

Under the original legislation there were 12 known HMOs in the borough.

But under the new legislation, the council is aware of a further 21 bedsits will become licensable.

Private sector housing manager Clare Jackson said: “There are likely to be more HMOs operating in the borough that will require a licence.

“Officers will be looking at ways to identify these properties.”

A minimum standard for bedroom sizes has also been introduced in a bid to prevent overcrowding.

Ms Jackson added: “Local authorities are required to give landlords time to comply with the new room size standards in respect of the first licence granted on or after October 1 2018.

“When granting the licence if the landlord is not complying with the room sizes a notice must be issued specify a time period within which the landlord must take action to comply with the condition.

“The maximum period that the local authority may specify is 18 months; however, a local authority may choose to shorten this time if reasonable.

It is a criminal offence not to apply for a HMO licence or to breach a licence condition. If convicted of an offence the fine is unlimited.

“Alternatively the local authority can serve a civil penalty of up to £30,000 as an alternative to prosecution.

“The cost or implementing the mandatory licensing scheme will be recovered through the HMO licence fee.”