Croydon yet another area to introduce Selective Licensing

Croydon yet another area to introduce Selective Licensing

11:41 AM, 27th June 2014, About 7 years ago 148

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However, the term “selective licensing” is something of a misnomer in this instance, as the proposal is for it to be borough wide.

The newly elected council’s objective seems not to be to tackle anti social behavior (and they can hardly claim lack of demand in a London borough with excellent transport links which is a major business centre in its own right) but to bring up the standard of privately rented accommodation and tackle rogue landlords. However, the DCLG will only allow councils to introduce SL if one or both of these conditions are met… Thus the ASB fig leaf, even though they themselves admit ASB is actually going down in the borough…

We all know about the somewhat prohibitive charges, payable upfront, but after a long phone conversation today with Chris Wright of Twinpier who advises on licensing issues as a sideline, I learned about some not only unreasonable, but downright ridiculous conditions some councils expect landlords to meet, such as not allowing a tenant to park a trade vehicle next to or near the property; providing printed appliance manuals – in the tenant’s native language, however obscure.

Landlords are also subject to fines for their tenants’ anti social behavior e.g. leaving a sofa in the front garden for a few days before it can be taken away for disposal, but at the same time, increasing the notice period to visit property from the standard 24 hours to 7 days…

Many thanks

MandyCroydon



Comments

by Mandy Thomson

22:27 PM, 28th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Paul Shears" at "28/06/2014 - 21:39":

I would really appreciate comments from people on mandatory licensing, particularly from those who live in or rent property in Croydon and might be affected by this.

by Monty Bodkin

11:37 AM, 29th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Hi Mandy,

As I'm sure you know, SL (selective licensing) is nothing to do with rogue LL (landlords) or ASB (Anti social behaviour) etc (et cetera) .

It is all about council power building and money.

Make sure your LA (local authority) is aware of the following CoA (court of appeal) case, it might help take away the CCI (cash cow incentive)-

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

The Residential Landlords’ Association has learnt that Ipswich Borough Council has begun the process of refunding landlord licensing fees, following the Westminster Court of Appeal sex shop case last year.

In an email to the RLA last week, the council confirmed that it is, “…currently going through their records to refund landlords of any [overpayment of] fees charged” on mandatory HMO licences. The council also confirmed that, “…Once the information is gathered, the Council will contact those landlords and arrange payment.”

The fees are being refunded following a Court of Appeal decision last year which found in favour of a European Services Directive (ESD), which operates to curtail the ways in which domestic UK legislation provides for fees to be charged by local authorities to landlords for such licences.

The decision of the Court of Appeal in the Westminster Sex Shop Fees case (Hemming (t/a Simply Pleasure) Limited v Westminster City Council) radically altered the landscape so far as fixing fees for regulatory authorisations such as for HMO and selective licensing is concerned, meaning local authorities must adhere to a set of principles when setting licensing fees.

These principles include:

A local authority can only charge for HMO licensing or selective licensing for:
The actual and direct administrative costs of investigating the background and suitability of the landlord applicant; and,
The cost of monitoring the compliance by licensed landlords with the terms of their licences.
Fees must be reasonable and proportionate.
Fees can only cover the actual cost of the application process (plus monitoring); i.e. only the cost of processing the application and monitoring can be charged.
Local authorities cannot include the costs of enforcing the licensing scheme against unlicensed landlords in the licence fee.
Set up charges for the scheme cannot be recovered.
Overheads and general administrative costs cannot be recovered. This means that the running and capital costs of the relevant council department cannot be charged as part of the fee.
The Council is not allowed to make a profit.
Should a local authority chose to ignore the ESD and implement either a selective or an additional HMO licensing scheme based on a proposed budget that does not adhere to the ESD, then the local authority may become liable for overcharging landlords, and have to refund them in a cash payment with interest.

If landlords believe they have been overcharged they are allowed six years to submit a claim.

The RLA has been in touch with several local authorities to discuss this issue with them, and has been actively challenging other local authorities where licensing schemes are being proposed, such as licensing proposals by Northampton Borough Council.

by Mandy Thomson

13:44 PM, 29th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Monty Bodkin" at "29/06/2014 - 11:37":

Thanks, Monty - that's really helpful! I also thought that Westminister Council's statement REFUTING landlord licensing on the Residential Landlord's Association (RLA) site was useful too.

From what I've seen the genuine motivations (as opposed to the made up excuses to try to comply with current legislation) of councils to license vary from, as you've suggested, cash cow incentive (CCI), power, being so skewed by political ideology they don't care what harm they could be doing by deliberately discouraging private letting, to a genuine desire to make things better - sometimes applied appropriately and fairly, but other times meaning well but just blundering in without considering the consequences.

by N E Landlord

8:08 AM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

I would have thought that cash strapped councils would now think twice about introducing selective licencing since
http://www.property118.com/ipswich-council-refunding-landlord-licensing-fees/63624/ since licensing schemes that would have previously made then money must now surely cost them significant sums to operate. Or am I missing something?

by Mandy Thomson

9:04 AM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Of course there's another reason - pandering to populist anti landlord opinion to help Labour's political campaign.

by Monty Bodkin

12:48 PM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Looks like a done deal, no reason or logic, just emotive landlord bashing for political gain;

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Council-seeks-better-deal-private-tenants/story-21299047-detail/story.html

Cllr Butler said: "We will be sending out the message to landlords that if you want to rent out a property in Croydon it has to be of a decent standard and you have to take responsibility for your tenants."

The message she has sent to me is to steer well clear of investing in Croydon.

by Monty Bodkin

12:55 PM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

From the same article;

"The scheme will require all landlords to be registered with the council, obtaining a licence which is likely to cost about £1,000 for a five-year period."

How come Scotland can do it for less than £100?

by Mandy Thomson

13:00 PM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Monty Bodkin" at "30/06/2014 - 12:48":

Unfortunately, Monty I'm forced to agree - as someone who grew up in Croydon and still has lots of connections with the town, it's very sad to see something that is going discourage investment.

by David Lawrenson

18:36 PM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

An outcome is that rents will increase in Croydon, as compliant landlords will inevitably pass on the cost of licensing.

Rogue landlords will continue to ignore it and very likely not get caught. As their costs will be lower than compliant landlords, business for them will likely increase.

Someone in the council in charge of the bureaucracy will get a big pay rise (bigger budget = more pay)

by Mandy Thomson

18:39 PM, 30th June 2014, About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "David Lawrenson" at "30/06/2014 - 18:36":

No doubt, David.

However, I for one shall not be increasing my rents - rents in Croydon (at least for decent properties) are already very high in common with all London boroughs and my tenants pay me more than enough already!

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