Councils are ‘trying to catch landlords out’ with licensing schemes

Councils are ‘trying to catch landlords out’ with licensing schemes

10:32 AM, 29th November 2022, About A year ago 6

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Licencing schemes are inconsistent across the country with the chair of the Lettings Industry Council accusing councils of ‘trying to catch landlords out’.

Theresa Wallace spoke to the Telegraph after the newspaper filed Freedom of Information (FoI) requests with councils.

It found that some unsuspecting landlords have been fined up to £45,000 for failing to have the correct licences for their properties.

Ms Wallace said: “The objective of the licencing scheme is not being met – which was to improve property standards.

“Just because you have a licence, it doesn’t mean your property is safe to live in.”

Six London landlords were fined

The Telegraph found that since October 2021, six London landlords were fined between £1,250 and £4,000 because they did not have an HMO licence for their homes that had fewer than five bedrooms.

This was after some local authorities unveiled additional HMO requirements in the past two years.

Ms Wallace said most landlords and letting agents who fall foul of licencing regulations are naive or caught unawares by their tenants who may have moved another person into a property.

‘We don’t have enough landlords’

She said: “We don’t have enough landlords and we have lost a lot of them from the sector.

“Scaring them out is not helping the industry. I don’t think the scheme is very well publicised.

“Why would anyone think to look on their local authority website? Anybody could be caught out by pure naivety.”

She pointed out that more landlords are likely to be fined as more local authorities roll out licensing schemes – which will generate profit for councils.

Landlords were typically fined £10,000-15,000

The Telegraph found that landlords were typically fined £10,000-15,000 for failing to have an HMO licence.

In one borough, they discovered that 40 fines had been issued, totalling £172,000.

Five landlords in the City of Westminster were handed criminal convictions, the FOIs revealed.

The newspaper highlights that hundreds of landlords have been fined for failing to have the correct licences across London.

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James Young

21:39 PM, 29th November 2022, About A year ago

Can some politician please just build more council housing so I don't have to deal with bad tenants??

Lynne Barry

22:00 PM, 29th November 2022, About A year ago

I am both a landlord and somebody who lives next to a nightmare landlord with an unregistered HMO.
My rented properties fall within a newly created licensing zone and I will have to pay for one for each flat.
I agree with setting up the zone. This is a cheaper part of London and the borough is stuffed full of badly run rentals. They contribute to the area being run down and often with a churn of tenants who have no investment in the area.
The neighbouring house always has overflowing bins, is massively overcrowded with much shouting by stressed adults and crying children, unkempt gardens, washing hanging out of windows etc etc.
Regulated HMOs help to ensure they are decent places to live in and alongside. Paying out the fees is a pain but is the lesser of two evils

Miserable Old Git

17:55 PM, 30th November 2022, About A year ago

A lot of cash strapped councils are silently implementing selective licensing for the sole intention of raising extra finance to pay for their increasing costs, social care, also the extra heating and electricity costs for schools and public buidings, this is because the conservative central government has withdrawn funding, most of these councils being labour controlled look upon the PRS as their ATM machines, with the added bonus of confiscation of assets by the way of unproportionate fines, criminal convictions, which results in landlords being unable to ever become licensed, for failing to register by deadlines and delays in applications due to lack of staff.
Landlords have become the new pariahs of society comparing us to criminals for making an income from property, when in their eyes we should be donating our assets to the homeless.
It seems the intention of those leaning towards the left is to blame us for their own failings, financially ruin us and only when we ourselves are homeless will they be happy.
I myself rely on my eroded rental income to live due to being disabled and medically unfit for work.

Russ Jones

18:04 PM, 1st December 2022, About A year ago

Bad landlords aren't on here, they do as little as possible to get as much money as possible.
Whilst it's tempting to think that local authorities are making a mint from licensing, all income from the schemes can only fund their enforcement and nothing else. Central government loves it as the sector should improve without costing them a penny!

Reluctant Landlord

10:30 AM, 2nd December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Lynne Barry at 29/11/2022 - 22:00
report the HMO! Keep on at the council until they do something - get the MP involved and kick off.

Look at the voting record of your MP . If they have voted on harsher sanctions for instances like this then hold them to account and show them up as not taking their role seriously!

Jessie Jones

8:13 AM, 3rd December 2022, About A year ago

Reply to the comment left by Russ Jones at 01/12/2022 - 18:04
Russ, I would suggest an alternative reality. Councils indeed have to ringfence the revenue raised from licensing and cannot use it for anything else. However, they can let out their office space to their licensing dept. They can charge the licensing dept for the IT infrastructure that they provide. Same with management costs, vehicle costs, furniture, conferencing, publications, social media. They can move staff who are on long term sick into their licensing dept, so that their sick pay is no longer being funded from the Council general fund. They can move staff who otherwise were going to be made redundant into the Licensing Dept, and then when they are made redundant, pay their redundancy pay out of the licensing revenue. They can second staff into their licensing dept whilst they are on a training course so that again their wages are no longer being paid for by the general fund. There are so many, many ways for a council to dip into funds which are supposedly 'ringfenced'. In Nottingham, 80% of the cost of the licence fee is spent on 'processing'. How it can cost over £600 to 'process' an application can only be explained by some very creative accounting indeed.

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