12:18 PM, 13th April 2012, About 10 years ago 8
Norwich based HMO Landlords are today celebrating a victory of the Eastern Landlords Association “ELA” in terms of persuading Norwich City Council that their 660% increase in HMO licencing fees was totally unreasonable.
Last year Norwich City Council increased the Licence fee for Houses of Multiple Occupation from £270 to £1900, later to reduce to £1800, an increase of over 660%.
The ELA accepted that the fee of £270 was compareitivly low, with the average fee for similar councils being in the range of £600-£700. Through meetings with Councillors and Council officials the ELA made their opposition to this huge rise very clear and this was relayed by members attending Branch Meetings to a representative from the council, and in letters to them.
The Council had used a Central Government Toolkit to calculate the figure. In discussions with Norwich City Council ELA supplied figures for other councils, and the fact that many had looked at the toolkit and decided that not to use the figures as they were clearly inaccurate. It is made very clear in legislation that there can be no profit made from the granting of such licences, and this was very strongly questioned by the ELA with such a high fee.
ELA members Matthew Hall and John Champion thoroughly studied and investigated the toolkit, and the figures used by The Council, and discovered that errors had been made by The Council and also significantly in the toolkit itself. The Council, in a meeting with The ELA in August, had committed to review the figure after six months, and the batch of 60 or so renewals. Further meetings were held between the ELA, including with Matthew and John, and The Council. As a result of the work by The Council and a review of the toolkit, The Council has agreed to reduce the fee to £637 per five year HMO Licence. This new figure represents a saving to Norwich HMO landlords totalling over £200,000. It should be noted that the amended fee is retrospective, and there will be refunds to all those who have paid the £1800.
Peter Davies, CEO of the ELA said “I would particularly like to thank Matthew and John for the phenomenal work that they have done, and also to Irene Hancock the Norwich Branch Chair, to Phil Walters, a Director of the ELA for his work, and to all those who have helped achieve this result.”
Mention should also be made to Paul Swanborough and his team at Norwich City Council for their work, and as he has said, “for the positive way in which you (ELA) have worked with us to resolve this matter. The new fee of £637 is transparent and fair. I hope that we may be able to build on this over the coming year and would particularly welcome the ELA’s views on establishing a private rented sector working group”.
The ELA will continue to work with The Council, representing members’ interests.
It will be interesting to see now whether other Landlord Associations and councils follow similar principles.
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