Can a council charge the new licence fee on an old application?

Can a council charge the new licence fee on an old application?

0:02 AM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago 8

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Hello, I applied for a selective property licence on behalf of a landlord on 27/9/2023. At that time, the licence fee was £735.

A new scheme came into force on 1/11/2023 and the fee increased to £860

On 21/12/2023, I received an email inviting me to pay the final instalment due of £445.00 and to be settled by 04/01/2024. I actually paid it on the day. By any definition, the word ’final’ means just that – there is no more to come which in this case, means licence payment.

However, the council has arbitrarily imposed the new post-November 1 fee of £860 on a licence applied for when the fee was £735 and is demanding payment of the extra £125.

Can they do this?

Thank you,

Jonathan


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Comments

Gary

10:01 AM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago

Not sure but given that the license fee can be offset against tax, I wouldn't worry about the extra £125 too much.

Reluctant Landlord

10:11 AM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago

I get you - its the principle. No fight it. Raise a formal complaint and kick up a fuss. They need to be told. Waste their time and money replying to you - this comes out of their 'ringfenced' budget apparently.

Copy in the local MP to show how costs just keep on rising for the tenant....!

Martin Thomas

10:57 AM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago

From what you said, this appears to be a new application rather than a renewal. If that is the case, I wouldn't think they can retrospectively charge a higher fee. You should pay the fee applicable on the date of application.

However, if it was a renewal and you were simply applying early to beat a price hike, and the renewal date was on or after 1 November, then I think they've got you.

Dylan Morris

11:23 AM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago

Sounds to me that there’s been an offer and an acceptance, the two essentials required for a contract. So no, in my opinion they can’t increase the fee.

Judith Wordsworth

15:18 PM, 13th February 2024, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Dylan Morris at 13/02/2024 - 11:23
There are 3 essentials
Offer
Acceptance
and Consideration (money changed hands)
The dubious bit here is that the consideration ie £735 in full wasn't paid ON acceptance.
The OP doesn't say whether the licence could be paid for in full or by instalments. If instalments the small print needs to be carefully looked at to see if there is any clause stating that the price can be increased if not paid in full on acceptance

AnthonyG

13:25 PM, 14th February 2024, About 2 months ago

I wouldn't think contract law applies here, as it is a fee for a licence, not a payment for goods or services. Seems to me they shouldn't change the fee in force when you applied, unless you just applied early on the off chance they would charge you last year's fee.

Simon F

22:54 PM, 15th February 2024, About 2 months ago

Per Provision of Services Regulations 2009 provision 18, procedures and formalities must be clear and made public in advance.

I'd lodge a formal complaint about the extra demand being in breach of services regulations (as above) and their unjustified failure to issue a licence that has been approved and paid for at the published rate, and let it at that. The complaint will not likely directly achieve anything, but does provide you with documentary evidence that you did everything possible and informed them properly of their error at the appropriate juncture so you have a sound legal defence. At the end of the complaints process, you can escalate to the LGSC ombudsman too.

Also, contact your local landlord's association, there will be countless others in the same situation.

Joey X

9:22 AM, 17th February 2024, About 2 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Gary at 13/02/2024 - 10:01
The tax saved is only 20% if you’re a basic rate tax payer, which is £25. I would worry about it as the lower fee should apply.

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