Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

by Mark Alexander

9:41 AM, 9th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

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Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

WARNING – this article might make you want to cry, it might make you want to laugh and it will probably make you angry, and for many different reasons depending on who you are. Licensing - Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

This is one of those articles which I would like to be read by every landlord, every letting agent, every tenant and especially every Politician.

I would also like every person who reads this article to leave a comment, share it and help turn it into a HUGE debate.

So what is it all about?

My friend Mary Latham recently wrote a book about the storm she see’s brewing which is heading towards the Private Rented Sector with potentially catastrophic consequences. One of the chapters in Mary’s book is called “Raising Standards or Raising funds”.

There have been many discussions about the effectiveness of licensing which is being introduced into the PRS in it’s various forms and on many occasions, landlords have concluded that licencing has very little to do with raising standards and more to do with Local Authorities raising funds to create “jobs for the boys”

Well you may be pleased to hear that the DCLG have asked Local Authorities to complete a survey about licencing. Have they read Mary’s book one wonders?

When I heard about the survey, intrigue and curiosity got the better of me – what questions were the DCLG asking?

To my surprise,  I managed to get hold of a link to the survey questionnaire, DCLG had used ‘open source’ software for their survey. Being the curious type I obviously felt compelled to take a look, fully expecting to be met with a security screen where I would have to enter a User Name and Password to get any further. I’d have given up at that point as there’s no way I would attempt to hack a Government website. To my surprise though, there was no security! They were using Survey Monkey and that awoke the little monkey in me.

To see the questions being asked I needed to complete the page I was looking at to get to the next set of questions, so I began to fill it in. This is the point at which my curiosity transformed into mischief as I was having a lot of fun with my answers 😉

Here was my opportunity to tell the DCLG what I really think about landlord licencing in the most cynical and mischievous way possible. What an opportunity!

Now before you think about attacking me with some “holier than though” type comments, please remember the DCLG are responsible for the drafting of all of the legislation which has caused the PRS so much grief. Anyhow, enough said on that, it’s done now.

I took screen shots of every page I completed and I have put them together in a slideshow below.

Do take a look and whether you laugh or cry and for whatever reason you get angry, please post a comment or join in the discussion below this article 😉

If I mysteriously disappear, you might just find me at the Tower of London LOL

I hope you will appreciate the irony of my answers!

[thethe-image-slider name=”Raising Funds or Raising Standards”]

Note for tenants – More licensing = higher rents!


Sharon Crossland

13:11 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "12/08/2013 - 12:46":

As usual I appreciate the response Ben and the link :). No one signs up for the kind of abuse you and I have suffered and councils and landlords are in stalemate as to who should deal with such behaviour. My council says the landlord is responsible as its a civil matter, the landlords say its the council's responsibility as they have plenty of mechanisms at their disposal and there's me left slap bang in the middlle all by myself! I'm not one to buck pass and I'm clear on my responsibilities to the freeholder but there are limits!

Ben Reeve-Lewis

13:25 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Sharon Crossland" at "12/08/2013 - 13:11":

I see your quandary in a bit more detail now.

Tenants kicking off at each other - thats between them alone. Council often has mediation and ASB teams that can help, but not all councils.

Tenants kicking off at each other and landlord wants you to sort it because that's what they are paying you for - that is down to you but you cant act in isolation. your client, the landlord must tell you how they want it sorted. If it's serving a notice on the tenant then so be it, you cant do any more than that because managing agents cant sign a statement of truth, which validates all court paperwork, so it's back in the landlord's ballpark after that.

Council officers may well tell you that it is your responsibility but this will be said either out of genuine ignorance or because of buck passing. in either event remember the golden rule, you are not liable for the behaviour of the tenants.

In effect it is neither the landlord nor the agents responsibility and it isnt the council's responsibility either. Councils and landlords have certain legal routes to resolve issues which they could use but they arent mandatory.

A council can use it's various powers in the public interest but 'Powers' aint 'Duties'. You can sue the council for not carrying out a statutory duty but not for choosing not to exercise its discretionary powers. Similarly a landlord could choose to evict but they dont have to.

I practice I find our ASB team very helpful also our local PCSOs but at the end of the day people (tenants) have to take responsibility for themselves. If I am a home owner and I have a nuisance neighbour it would be up to me to take such action as I could to restrict their nuisance. Nobody is going to jump in and bail me out. Same with housemates, although tenants rarely want to hear that, preferring to believe that the council exists like some great, bloated Mother Hen who flies in to sort all their problems out so they can go to bed with their cocoa and sleep soundly

Mark Alexander

13:52 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

I have created a new thread in order to provide a summary of the excellent comments and recommended alternatives to Landlord Licencing Schemes - please see >>>

Sharon Crossland

14:46 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ben Reeve-Lewis" at "12/08/2013 - 13:25":

Hi Ben 🙂 We are a private block so the tenant has the contract with the landlord in the form of the tenancy agreement but the tenant doesn't have a contract with the freeholder. The landlord has a contract with the freeholder in the terms of the lease. However, the freeholder doesn't have a contract with the subtenant so we are reliant on landlords issuing eviction notices when required.

Some leases may say there is no restriction on subletting but being able to place a restriction on unfettered subletting is considered a way of maintaining the standard of a block. So, a new lease could say that whilst there is no restriction on subletting, the subtenant has to enter into a direct covenant with the freeholder to observe all the terms and conditions of the lease, a clause that would be inserted into the tenancy agreement. There was however, concern from prospective landlords that this could end up with the subtenant being presented with a very lengthy document containing all the lease covenants, which could put them off.

It's a tricky one but as ever I take your comments on board. The positive outcome for me has been that despite the assaults and injuries, and the hard work, we have shown the landlords on our block that we mean business and have got some of them quite well trained! As I said in an earlier post I appreciate the help I do get from the council. I may have to push to get it, but I often do get it! The Safer Neighbourhood Police Team have also been fantastic! 🙂

andrew townshend

18:09 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

if this licensing did raise standards then i would be in favor, but it will not, here in norwich it would be just another cash cow for council funds and jobs for the jobsworths. don't try to fools us, we really are not that green.

Marie Smyth

20:08 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Hi all.

Interesting debate. I think all councils know their good Landlords but not always the bad ones out there. licensing only affects the 'Good LL' as the bad LL will be doing his/her best to stay under the radar and the good LL will already be known to the authority. I licensed immediately and in worked in conjunction with the Environmental Health Officer upgrading 13 houses in Ealing, divided into either studio, 1 and 2 bed flats;, the license of course would not be approved without a) meeting standards and b) payment. Payment being £100 per habitable room per unit so you can imagine the fees were steep when based over 50 odd units.

What was the benefit? Absolutely Nil. Working in conjunction with EHO and the fire Officer is the norm for a good, decent, honest owner/manager. I approached the authority once licensing was introduced (and yes I include myself as decent, honest in the letting business) whereas you need not take any bets that there are still 'bad' LL opperating out there without handing over any licensing fees. It is yet again a charge affecting decent people but still allows the elusive baddies to continue to ignore the regime the rest of us are following. Just wondering what else can they hammer us with?

20:10 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

yet another government money making scheme. The clueless fools can not organise the banking system or their own employees, or indeed government spending [that stupid wheel in London!!!] or the welfare system,immigration,etc etc etc....oh and i forgot pensions. What a mockery our so called leaders are

Don Holmes

20:28 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

I recently added what I believe to be a valuable comment to the future of this debate, but it seems to have gone missing?
How is that democracy?

Mark Alexander

20:32 PM, 12th August 2013
About 7 years ago

If you posted a comment it is still there, check your Member Profile

Maruk Miah

14:34 PM, 13th August 2013
About 7 years ago

Today we have received our “draft” licence from London Borough of Newham for one of the properties. We had to chase up asking for update with no acknowledgement of mails since we submitted the application on January 2013. The funny thing is the agent received the draft license and as a Landlord I did not. However for other propertied we did received the copy of same correspondence around the same time.
The cover letter states:

“The licence specifies the maximum permitted number of person that may occupy the property. It applies only to new residents. Where the number of occupants is greater than the maximum permitted number, no person living there at the time the license is issued would be required to leave.”

My response, if the house was over crowded, you cannot evict the tenants even if the tenant found to be wrongly sub letting. From this cover letter statement, it is absolutely clear the LBN does not want to be blamed for introducing the scheme! Or else they will have a sudden surge of tenants on their list.
Furthermore, the tenants occupying the house do not want to move for at least 10 years, so if the license does not apply to the existing tenants, why are the landlord forced to apply for the licence and pay a fee?
This is so wrong!

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