Landlord fears ‘prison sentence’ over council’s selective licensing application process

Landlord fears ‘prison sentence’ over council’s selective licensing application process

9:13 AM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago 25

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One landlord says applying for a selective licence with his council’s online system is a ‘complete waste of money’ which could see him facing a prison sentence and making all of his tenants homeless.

Mick Roberts, one of Nottingham’s largest landlords to house benefit tenants, told Property118 that every time he has tried to apply for a licence online the website is down.

He said so far, he’s only been successful in applying for one licence and the online selective licensing scheme is causing misery for landlords and tenants.

Mr Roberts said: “I am going to prison, getting fined £570,000 and hundreds of tenants will be homeless because Nottingham City Council’s selective licensing website is down again.

“It’s a complete waste of money when we have Universal Credit enhanced reviews to do for tenants.

“What happens if the tenants don’t get paid or is licensing more important to the council?”

It’s not working

Mr Roberts told Property118: “I have 19 houses in the Nottingham area which are covered by selective licensing.

“However, I have only got one done as every time I try to do it on the website it’s not working. I tried again this week and when I did the page it failed 30 minutes in.”

Mr Roberts says the council needs to think of a better system.

He explains: “You would think the council would design it so that we could do all our houses in one go at the same time. They’d get in more money and licenses quicker.

“Instead, I have to do all houses individually even though 98% of the questions are just repeating the same thing. Why do I have to submit my driving license 19 times for each house?”

Previously, a Property118 investigation revealed the alarming figures of homelessness in Nottingham with selective licensing being blamed.

That came after Shelter revealed that 2,700 people across Nottinghamshire were facing homelessness last Christmas – including 1,340 children who are stuck in temporary accommodation such as B&Bs.

When approached by Propery118, regarding the selective licensing online system Nottingham City Council did not comment.


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Comments

Ian Narbeth

10:06 AM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Mick, sorry to hear of your troubles. if you have not already done so I would email and write to the Council listing your properties and stating that you are ready, willing and able to register for selective licensing but their website has failed. Take screenshots if possible of the failure. Ask them if there is another way to register - e.g. by submitting a paper form.

We have had similar problems in the past with a Council's system for HMO licensing. I made sure to email a housing officer to say we were trying to complete registration.

If the Council try to sanction you for non-registration then seek legal advice immediately.

Mick Roberts

10:30 AM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 14/02/2024 - 10:06
Thanks Ian,
Yes I've got screenshots of the failings, sent them the Council page failing & they sent this 18 Dec:
I have spoken to the IT team around this and was informed that there was an issue with the page on that day with accepting uploads, impacting on you being able to submit your applications.
I am informed that the problem has now been resolved so you shouldn't have anymore issues completing your applications.

And again last week I tried again & they sent this:
Regarding the error code that was presented to you, I have checked with one of our IT colleagues and it looks like an issue with an uploaded file. Their advice is to remove them one by one and reupload. Occasionally happens with the save function.

So they know it could OCCASIONALLY happen. Am I supposed to just keep trying? Who's getting the tenants boiler that;s just broke?

I've offered to do all houses in one go. This is Nottingham Council we talking here who'd rather pay £2400 for a family in a hotel than to talk to Landlords.

Monty Bodkin

11:56 AM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 14/02/2024 - 10:06
"Ask them if there is another way to register - e.g. by submitting a paper form."

They charge an extra £65-£100 per property for a paper application.

Chris @ Possession Friend

12:18 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Formal complaint to Council and after the stages have been exhausted, complaint to Ombudsman.

There has to be a Paper route to apply, as it would discriminate against those non-technology users.

Simon F

12:28 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Lodge a formal complaint to the council and keep a record of that.

Make the point that they are in breach of: Provision of Services Regulations 2009 (POS09) provision 18 paragraph (3): "Authorisation procedures and formalities provided for by a competent authority under an authorisation scheme must be easily accessible.".

If they charge a Part 1 fee separate from a Part 2 fee, that shows that they recognise that POS09 applies to HMO Licencing as derives from the precedent of case: R(Gaskin) v LB Richmond Upon Thames (2018) EWHC 1996 (Admin).

Simon F

12:36 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Separate point:
I am in Portsmouth and we are having a lot of trouble with the system our council has recently introduced for HMO Licence applications and renewals.
It's a system called Verso(tm) focussed on Public Sector Licencing Automation and is being sold to a lot of local authorities, and is used for all Welsh lettings.

It would be useful to know if the Nottingham system is the same, and anybody elsewhere encountered this.

TheBiggerPicture

13:01 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

That's the definition of stress. Being responsible for something that is beyond your control. Whereas an employee could say it's stressful and they need time off, there is no such luxury for business owners.

The council should not be able to demand compliance whist their systems can't even handle this.
At worst they should offer an extension, not make their problem your problem.

David100

13:47 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

We all need to face the fact, that mostly these licencing systems are just a cash grab by councils that have blown all their funds on vanity projects. My council is making 3 woke statues (at £150k a pop) while demanding a licencing fee that does not do anything for tenants or landlords alike.

Reluctant Landlord

13:54 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Chris @ Possession Friend at 14/02/2024 - 12:18
in B'ham I have been informed this can only happen if you go to their offices in person. There is still no paper form to fil out - you sit with someone who literally gets the application up on line and taps the info into the online form for you while you sit there....

so seriously tempted to do this, just to waste their time....

Simon F

14:05 PM, 14th February 2024, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Reluctant Landlord at 14/02/2024 - 13:54
They do the same in Portsmouth. That sounds a lot like it might be the Verso(tm) system you have there too.
When online, we get a lot of "Please wait.. Loading" when moving from one question to the next in the same section of the form.

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