False sense of security for Southwark Landlords as licensing expires for 15,000 properties

False sense of security for Southwark Landlords as licensing expires for 15,000 properties

9:33 AM, 6th January 2021, About 3 years ago

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It appears that a London borough council’s two licensing schemes have expired at the turn of the year, with no alternative likely to come into force until the middle of 2021 at least. London Property Licensing reports that additional and selective licensing schemes in Southwark, south London, expired on December 31, five years after they came into force.

The additional licensing scheme extended licensing to all HMOs throughout the borough. The selective scheme covered every rental property in over 130 streets. In total, 15,000 properties were eligible.

However, while the council approved plans for new schemes last spring, the mandator consultation processes did not take place because of Coronavirus.

Although these licensing schemes have ended, Landlords are not safe. The council’s aggressive enforcement and Civil Penalty Fine regime will not stop. Every HMO from 3 persons up must comply with the HMO Management Regulations all rental properties must comply with the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. Issuing massive Civil Financial Penalty fine in the £10,000s to landlords for even minor non-compliances has become a major and vital revenue scheme for councils across the country.

London Property Licensing says: “If the council decide to implement new property licensing schemes, they must first undertake a public consultation exercise with all interested parties for at least 10 weeks and consider the feedback received.

“If new schemes are then approved, a scheme designation must be made at least three months before new schemes come into force. It is therefore unlikely any new licensing schemes could start before summer 2021.”

Expiry dates on some landlords’ existing licences have been extended and it appears the council dated some recently-issued licences for five years, taking their validity well into the future.

However, earlier-issued licences had been granted with an expiry date of December 31, 2020 to coincide with the end date of the licensing schemes. The council is expected to announce in the near future what next steps it will take.

Phil Turtle of Landlord Licensing and Defence

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