11:34 AM, 11th April 2023, About 11 months ago 24
A council’s selective licensing scheme has been criticised by a First-tier Tribunal (FTT) for covering a wide area rather than focusing on areas with rogue landlords and anti-social behaviour.
The comments come in a Rent Repayment Order (RRO) decision after a case was brought by Justice for Tenants to support a claim by a tenant couple.
They had applied for a RRO for £12,946 after discovering that their rented home in Nottingham did not have a licence.
In its decision, the FTT reduced the claim by 90% because of mitigating circumstances so the couple will receive £774.59 and costs of £300.
But the tribunal’s verdict also slams the council and it said: “We are also concerned that Nottingham City Council appears to have imposed a selective licensing regime over a substantial part of its area rather than targeting particular areas where problems of poor housing, anti-social behaviour etc. are found.
“We are concerned that local authorities adopting this approach may be tempted to regard the licensing regulations as being a regular source of income rather than dealing with the issues for which they were intended.”
Well-known Nottingham landlord Mick Roberts told Property118: “The council has already got a bad name but now the authorities have started to take notice.
“The RRO Tribunal said Nottingham Council is seen as money making because its selective licensing scheme covers the whole city and not the deprived areas.
“I have many houses in these ‘deprived areas’ and when I’ve asked the Labour council to comment on this, they just say ‘It’s an area’.”
He added: “The council, in their infinite wisdom, thought they knew better when creating the selective licensing scheme but landlords with common sense know why these schemes are created.
“Not only do they make the rent more expensive for tenants, but many landlords also decide to sell which makes it more difficult for tenants to find a home.
“The council will not listen, but the tribunal has seen Nottingham’s selective licensing scheme for what it is.”
A Nottingham City Council spokesperson said: “We were surprised to see these comments made at this tribunal, given that the rules around Selective Licensing schemes are clear and long-standing.
“Firstly, we had to make an evidence-driven case to Government which was firmly based on the legislation and guidance.
“This was approved by the Secretary of State to run in certain areas of Nottingham where there are poor property conditions, significant and persistent anti-social behaviour and crime, or high levels of deprivation.”
The spokesperson added: “Secondly, Selective Licensing is not income-generating – councils are not permitted to make a profit.
“Licence fees solely cover the costs of setting up, operating and delivering the scheme in the city.”