Help. I am desperate and all of you can help me!

by Readers Question

2 months ago

Help. I am desperate and all of you can help me!

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Help. I am desperate and all of you can help me!

Have you heard of selective licencing?

Well it is really bad news for landlords. In 19 years of being a landlord, this is by far the worst crisis to hit me. You really need to watch out for this and guard against it. My local council, Telford and Wrekin, want to apply to the secretary of State to impose special measures to areas which they consider to be suffering from vandalism, anti-social behavior, fly-tipping and general deprivation. They are in consultation until 21st August and if implemented, would mean I have to apply for a licence to rent out my properties. This would be £610 per property and I have six in this area. Then they would have the power to impose sixty mandatory conditions in order for me to obtain such a licence.

I was extremely shocked and surprised that they want to do this as I and my tenants have always regarded “Hollinswood” in Telford as a nice pleasant area. Obviously, there is some crime, but no more than the average for any estate and I have never witnessed anti-social behaviour or fly-tipping as the council claims is the reason for these extreme measures, but there is a lot of landlords and the council will accrue a great deal of money in licence fees from landlords. I regard this as just another tax and way of hitting out at landlords.

I really really need all of you to go to www.telford.gov.uk/selectivelicencing and fill in the online survey. I think the tick box questions are really biased and I did not tick any of them, just filling in comments on how bad selective licencing would be for landlords, tenants and homeowners alike. I did not recognise the area portrayed in the video.

There is information and a campaign against selective licencing at the website of “Wrekin Landlords Association” which is well worth a visit. They are also on Facebook.

Please please help me.

I and other landlords face a huge financial hit and an administrative nightmare if the council have their way, and remember, the scourge of selective licencing could come to a council near you!

PS. Could you please make a quick reply to let me know how many of you have filled in the online survey.

It is a numbers game and every comment matters.

Thank-you very much.

Martin

Comments

Mark Alexander

2 months ago

Hi Martin

I am just as outraged about this as I was over 5 years ago when Newham Council were one of the first to launch Selective Licensing. Many more Councils have done so since and Property118 has posted dozens of equally passionate war cries as yours for those affected. They have posted the same "coming to you soon" warnings and called for National support.

However, people don't get passionate enough about other peoples campaigns unless they are affected personally. That's just the way it is I'm afraid. The Councils know this and play on it, which is one of the reasons I suspect Selective Licensing wasn't rolled out to all areas at the same time. If it had been there would have been a concerted effort to fight it. The Councils are using'divide and conquer' tactics.

Whether or not you accept the above to be the reality, please consider the evidence. Do a search on Property118 on Selective Licencing and you will find dozens of articles just like yours. Did you sign their petitions? Did you write to their Council? Did you contribute to their Consultation?

See my point?

My suggestion is to form an action group of your most passionate local supporters and then meet up to create an action plan. Visit every letting agent in the affected areas and seek their support. There will be many people who moan and very few who will actually take action. Your mission, should you choose to accept, is to find those who will take action and to motivate and guide them.

I also suggest you speak to those who have managed to defeat Selective licensing in their areas such as Alex Caravello at https://landlordsmk.org.uk/ and Paul Routledge - see https://landlordnews.co.uk/landlords-successfully-overthrow-selective-licensing-plans/

I sincerely wish you all the best in your endeavours

Regards

Mark Alexander - founder of Property118.com "The Landlords Union"

Gunga Din

2 months ago

"vandalism, anti-social behavior, fly-tipping and general deprivation" plus high rate of tenant turnover are the usual justifications. Does anyone know of any evidence to show that these parameters actually improved as a result of licensing?

Lindsey Sharratt

2 months ago

I was at the last Council meeting as I am considering standing as a Councillor in 2 years. Although I am local, non of my properties are in the area, but I am very strongly against selective licensing, and I believe you would have a lot of support for the petition. If you do start a campaign, please let me know, and I will do everything I can to raise awareness.

Gunga Din

2 months ago

I completed the survey. I wonder how far my submission will go, since early questions reveal that I am not of the area.

Mandy Thomson

2 months ago

Hi Martin

We learned these lessons the hard way when we challenged Croydon's licensing scheme. Firstly, the consultation is just a rubber stamping exercise (though that's not a reason to ignore it). As you've seen, the questions are leading and landlords are in the minority.

Secondly, don't even think about taking a (very expensive!) judicial review against the council unless you have very sound quantitive evidence against them. For example, Constantinos Regas won against Enfield because he managed to prove they didn't run their consultation for long enough - you can't argue with that kind of evidence; it's either proved or not. Even so, he had a hard time coming up with the right argument then getting the court to take it seriously.

Other councils took note of this victory and learned from it, ensuring their consultations ran for long enough. We felt we had a good argument against Croydon - they hadn't properly consulted the obvious people they should have - but we lost on this initially and we were subsequently denied permission to appeal.

It is much more effective for individual landlords to simply appeal against any unreasonable conditions imposed to the First Tier Property Tribunal.

robert fisher

2 months ago

We have a similar scenario in some areas of Peterborough. Trial areas they call it. However it is entirely a money making scheme for the council and apart from voice your protest in the survey (i did quite vociferously) it will happen. Eventually it will be rolled out across peterborough to all areas, another cost for Landlords which will be passed onto the tentant at some point. I had to have electrical tests carried out at a cost of £100 and as if i use an ARLA registered agent or can show i am registerered as a member of a professional landords association i have my liscence reduced to £50 . The liscence lasts for 5 years. The council came and inspected the properties. They asked for my mortgage details and wanted written proof from the mortgage companies that i was allowed to rent out the properties. I told them to sod off, pretty much my exact words and said i would need a court order to show them data sensitive info. they also said they would carry out on the spot inspections. I told them and informed my tenants that a minimum 24 hours notice was required as per the tenancy agreement and would only be allowed access if the tenant agreed. Good luck but guaranteed you will be onto a loser

Mandy Thomson

2 months ago

I've just completed the consultation, though I have no connection with the area.
I thought some of the questions, and I infer from these some of the proposed conditions, were unreasonable. For example:
-HMO landlords to inspect the common areas every week
-Fit a carbon monoxide alarm where there's no solid fuel appliance - not a legal requirement and unnecessary particularly as each gas appliance professionally checked every year
-Non bedrooms not to be used for sleeping accommodation; aside from the question of studio flats, Part 10 of the Housing Act 1985 states that SOCIAL tenants are expected to sleep in lounges, dining rooms and even kitchens, provided they're large enough
-Deep clean at end of tenancy (I'm assuming they mean cleaning by a professional) IMHO this is unnecessary unless the previous occupier failed to maintain reasonable levels of cleanliness
-Landlord to ensure HMO tenants put their rubbish out for collection - aside from informing tenants of rubbish arrangements, I fail to see how the landlord is liable
-In general, it is the individual and the householder who is legal liable for any ASB and their own conduct in general, not that person's landlord
-Landlord responsibility for presentation of exterior of property; what about flats where landlord is leaseholder with no say in how freehold is run?

A group of private landlords in Croydon brought a case against Selective licensing to the High Court, unfortunately they lost.
This is a link on to an article surrounding the case:
http://news.croydon.gov.uk/high-court-backs-croydon-landlord-licensing-scheme/

Dr Rosalind Beck

2 months ago

In Cardiff, the fees were all about £600 per property when this came in several years ago for the whole of the two 'student areas' of Roath and Cathays. I wish we had had the possibility of paying only £50 per licence as others have had if they are accredited. No such luck. Also, to justify the fee they nitpick as much as possible and dream up expensive works to be done. The works they say need doing are often a lot more expensive than the licence. I said my piece at a public meeting with the head of Environmental Health but it made no difference - THEY decide what they are going to do, THEY dictate their ludicrous fees and then you have to pay all over again 5 years down the line. It's all a shameful exercise but a fait accompli in my area. If others can find grounds to challenge it then good for them. Better still if they could find an argument which proved that it was illegal nationally. I'd like it to one day become the next 'PPI' scandal if some good lawyer brains could get to work on this and it could be proven that the fees are effectively extortion and must be refunded with interest!

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