Additional Licensing – how to sneak it through?

by Readers Question

14:45 PM, 18th April 2014
About 7 years ago

Additional Licensing – how to sneak it through?

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Additional Licensing – how to sneak it through?

Whilst I applaud high standards of safety in rented accommodation, there are different ways of achieving this. Some of the conditions under licensing schemes are un-necessarily heavy-handed and open to interpretation, often by over-zealous EHO. These schemes are seen as the answer to rubbish problems, anti-social behaviour and crime, however there is no evidence to support this. The money and time setting them up could be better spent on tackling the problems in other ways and enforcing more action on the rogues that are discovered.

When did a shared house with kitchen facilities, only in the kitchen, suddenly became a house of bedsits, for example, or what constitutes a low risk property (which is then allowed close fitting doors rather than fire doors) or is there ever a time when kitchen fans are not required? These definitions exist but are often ignored by EHO and once licensing is introduced these are simply mandatory conditions and there is no room for negotiation.

Cardiff Council wants to add another area to the list of Additional Licensed properties. Normally this Council is exemplary in its dealings with landlords and has created a good working environment, however in the rush to get this through during an overturn of the Welsh Cabinet, they have chosen to issue a consultation document the week before Easter and for the minimum 6 week period. The document did not appear in any public domain for at least a week that I can find and was inaccessible for a few days. The questionaire is rather loaded if you log on as a tenant.

Please can you help by contributing to this survey? There were only 6 objections in a previous consultation as the 150 signatures (approx) from the local forum were counted as one! It does not say you have to be a landlord with a property in this area – nor a tenant. If the tenant is happy with their property and has never had any cause for complaint there is no box for them to tick. This rather assumes than none exist (:

A consultation questionnaire, together with a link to the Public Consultation document can be found at http://www.surveys.cardiff.gov.uk/HMOPlasnewydd/

Please can you help? I know this is happening all over the UK and is seen by most decent landlords, who already provide good homes, as another stealth tax and unlikely to solve the problems. I would love some comments from the Milton Keynes landlords who overturned the decision to introduce licensing in their area.

Many Thanks

GillyCardiff


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Comments

Laura Delow

16:39 PM, 18th April 2014
About 7 years ago

Just completed the survey. You're right....Landlords need to stick together where the cause is valid.

Mark Alexander

17:43 PM, 18th April 2014
About 7 years ago

I don't have property in the area but I've completed the survey anyway, just to see what question were asked.

As you suggest, the questions are very biased.

I hope all landlords reading this complete the survey, whether they live in the area or not. After all, it is anonymous 😉
.

Linda Price

19:02 PM, 18th April 2014
About 7 years ago

Survey just completed - I've put that I am fed with paying for the irresponsible landlords - why do I need a licence when I am already complying with all the regulations and more - Why don't they just chase the ones who can't be bothered. I'm sick of just being a sitting target for their latest fad and money making ventures. Having said that Newport council are worse!
I just wish the authorities would realise that there is only so far that our income can be stretched and would they really prefer that we pay their fees rather than do a nice improvement that would be really be appreciated by a tenant. Most of our rents go back into looking after our properties.

Michael Barnes

21:48 PM, 19th April 2014
About 7 years ago

I've read the Cardiff consultation paper and I can see that their hearts are in the right place even if their minds are not.

I am not a HMO landlord, but it seems to me that HMOs need some kind of control as there is great potential for actions of rogue tenants to have serious consequences on the safety of other tenants, as well as the actions of landlords. Common parts, fire escapes, etc need to be kept to a standard and licencing allows this to be policed and breaches sanctioned.

Having said that, the current approach does not seem to be particularly fair or have much in the way of teeth to tackle bad landlords.

My approach would include:
1. national coordination of schemes (mandatory)
2. cost based on bedrooms in property: fixed cost per bedroom
3. Significant penalties for non-registration, including
- 3A. Unlicenced HMO not allowed to be used as HMO for 5 years.
This would reduce the value of the property for the offender.
- 3B. Offenders not allowed to hold HMO licence anywhere in England and Wales
for 5 years
- 3C. Offenders not allowed to own HMOs anywher in E&W for 5 years.
- 3D. Frequent inspections for 3 years of any HMO previously owned or licensed
by such an offender (to prevent it being passed to a family member but
still effectively run by the offender in a poor manner).
4. Local Autorities having a statutory duty to seek out unlicenced HMOs.
5. HMOs to be required to display licence and contact information outside their
properties. Neighbours could then identify suspect unlicenced HMOs to LA.

Linda Price

0:46 AM, 20th April 2014
About 7 years ago

We mainly run HMO's studios and bedsits and I find that after 30 plus years experience in this market, the only way to run them without grief is to do it properly. You have to have some one going around regularly to make sure the place is clean - my HMO's all have a weekly clean included in the rent, and if rubbish isn't dealt with correctly, then the offender(s) get notices until they comply. It is higher maintenance but then so are the returns.

I feel the council would achieve their objectives far more effectively by using their money to get these services in place to badly run premises rather than chasing the good landlords with mountains of repetitive paperwork and expense. This could be done by employing someone currently receiving benefits to do it, and then charging the landlord. A regular presence and not allowing anti social behavior plus clean and tidy gardens makes such a difference to everyone.

As regards to the licences, I do feel that the charge is reflecting some of the costs to chase non complying landlords and I will be challenging the council with this after reading Mark's link

http://news.rla.org.uk/ipswich-begins-refunding-licensing-fees-to-landlords/

Thank you for that Mark

Alex

10:51 AM, 22nd April 2014
About 7 years ago

Hi Gilly

I am the Chairman of Milton Keynes Private Landlords Association (www.mkpla.org.uk). We recently successfully challenged our Council's attempts to bring in Additional and Selective Licensing.

If you would like some advice, please get in touch.

Gilly

19:27 PM, 23rd April 2014
About 6 years ago

Thanks for your helpful views everyone and for fillling in the survey - I hope more landlords/tenants will read this and do it too.

Thanks also for the offer to get in touch MK - I will, when I get back from my holiday.

Don't like the idea of a fixed bedroom cost MdeB - regardless of size, en-suite bathrooms, water views etc? The pursuit of errant landlords is also a little draconian - occasionally people let to one family then it ends up as an HMO.through no fault of their own - they may not even be aware (rogue tenants exist too).

And as for Newport - I gather they won't even let you put wallpaper in the Hall...hmmm.....grave fire risk that!

Jeremy Smith

12:32 PM, 24th April 2014
About 6 years ago

That was hardly worth filling in, talk about wasting people's time, they could have made a far better, more searching questionnaire.

Gilly

20:54 PM, 23rd May 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Jeremy Smith" at "24/04/2014 - 12:32":

Oh I'm really sorry if I have wasted your time Jeremy, but we appreciate all the responses we can muster, so thank you. They will use this questionnaire to back up their aims there is no doubt. and I agree it could have been so much better - but it matters not - this will simply be their method of satisfying the requirement for a "consultation".

Jeremy Smith

0:23 AM, 24th May 2014
About 6 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gilly " at "23/05/2014 - 20:54":

Hi Gilly,
No, I didn't mean you have wasted our time ! What one authority is doing may be copied by another and affect others, so our time is not wasted if you bring these things to our attention.

- why create a questionnaire, and then not use it effectively. ?
Any questionaire will always have a bias unless created by an independent body, but then who pays them to create it ??

Just had another look at the questionnaire, and depending upon who you say your are, you get differing questions, and therefore the responses they get will also be different !

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