Landlord Licensing – What can we do to get our Councils to account to us?

Landlord Licensing – What can we do to get our Councils to account to us?

10:55 AM, 28th June 2021, About 3 months ago 10

Text Size

In Newcastle upon Tyne the local council wish to renew their expiring licensing schemes. After 5 years you would imagine that they would have solved any of the problems that they stated that Landlords were responsible for. Apparently not. I have seen no evidence.

In the 5-year period, I have seen no reports on progress from the Council. No explanation of where the money they forced you to hand over has gone. No explanation of which Landlords they have found to be responsible for the problems that required licences to be issued. Across the country, we seem to have unending schemes to license us, but when they are introduced we receive no explanation of what the Council does with their lovely cash we are forced to provide.

Does anyone know if there is a responsibility for Councils to account for their financial incomes and expenditures in these Licensing Schemes in public?

How are we meant to know what they have done unless they provide a full report? How are we meant to judge their actions unless full details are provided? We need to know what the Licensors (the Council) did when they did it and what the results were.

We have a whole country where Councils are forcing us to explain ourselves to them, on the basis that they know better how to solve problems than we do, and that we are mean to pay them to show us.

What can we do to get our Councils to account to us?

Stewart



Comments

by TheBiggerPicture

12:18 PM, 28th June 2021, About 3 months ago

Good question.
Quite a lack of transparency and accountability.
Would suspect it's easier to get the transparency than the accountability.

Might be worth speaking to a council member directly and asking them to champion your cause for the information you seek.

by DSR

13:07 PM, 28th June 2021, About 3 months ago

VERY interesting questions! Raise an official complaint (once you have asked the question and had no reply!) That way they are on 'notice' to have to reply to you. If then you get no joy I'd contact your local MP and also the LC Ombudsman. If you pay for a public funded service - you have the right to find out how the money is spent and what they are doing with it! Go for it!

by Simon M

13:16 PM, 28th June 2021, About 3 months ago

I did see a report - some time ago - claimed licensing works, but the detail amounted to no more than council management opinions - no surprise.

I'd suggest a series of Freedom of Information questions. Ask for statistical information they must collect in their daily activity so they must be able to answer from their existing records.

Rough examples:
How many properties had a licence at 1 April 2019, 2020, 2021.
How many complaints were received for licensed properties April-April each year?
How many properites were the subject of a single complaint, 2 complaints, 3+complaints, etc?
How many properties did Council Licensing Officers visit?
How many properties did the Council serve a notice for: list of landlord responsibilites eg safety, repairs.
For how many properties did they take further action for: list of tenant responsibilities

Phrase more carefully than my examples to ensure they provide comparable figures you can then use. To avoid a response that the information will cost too much to produce, submit no more than 2 or 3 questions at a time, wait for the answers then ask as a follow-up questions.

You could dig further, into licensed v. unlicensed properties, or ask about the financial aspects, etc. This would give local councillors a strong case to take up and make it more difficult for a Council's Senior Managers to justify current policies.

by Michael Bond

13:26 PM, 28th June 2021, About 3 months ago

Then ask during the public half hour of a meeting of the full Council which official had reported this to which elected member, when and in what circumstances??

by Sara Westenborg

21:02 PM, 29th June 2021, About 3 months ago

This is definitely a job for a few landlords or your local landlord association. In Stoke-On-Trent in 2019 we bombarded the Council with FOI requests when they tried to introduce further selective licensing across various areas of the city.
You can see the questions here -
https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/body/stoke_on_trent_city_council?utf8=✓&query=selective+licensing&request_date_after=&request_date_before=&commit=Search
When requesting Freedom of Information only do it through - http://www.whatdotheyknow.com. This is in the public domain. If you do it directly with the council no-one else will see it. Please feel free to get in touch if you would like more information. We were successful and the MHCLG refused the councils application.

by Stewart

16:59 PM, 30th June 2021, About 3 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Sara Westenborg at 29/06/2021 - 21:02
Hi Sara. Thank you for that reply. I am having a good look at your questions now.
Stewart

by Stewart

17:00 PM, 30th June 2021, About 3 months ago

Hi Sara. Thank you for that reply. I am having a good look at your questions now.
Stewart

by blair

21:32 PM, 3rd July 2021, About 3 months ago

Hey. I am in Brent and reported a unlicensed property I asked for my "finders fee". £350, I think it was.. Their reply was no we keep that.

My point is if as they claim they are cash neutral ( no profit) how do they budget for such "windfalls".

My experience with Brent licensing team on dealing with issues is that they are merely a "letter box" other existing departments do the real work/enforcement

by Heather G.

18:04 PM, 5th July 2021, About 3 months ago

I was delighted when Jenrick refused Croydon's application for another 5-year borough-wide SL scheme.
He said they had failed to:
- demonstrate how the proposal was consistent with the council's overall strategy;
- show how making the designation would significantly assist them to achieve their objectives; and
- comply with the 2015 Selective Licensing Order with respect to poor housing conditions.
He also said the council had not demonstrated ''...strong outcomes or efficient delivery...' of the previous scheme and the council was "unable to demonstrate how SL, combined with other measures taken by the them will contribute to the improvement in general housing conditions in the area".

That scheme had generated £22m for the council but auditors Grant Thornton were unable to say with any certainty how that money had been spent.

Of the c36,000 licenses, they inspected 13,000 properties in 5 years with only 75 prohibition orders served and c40 landlords issued with civil financial penalties or prosecuted (and perhaps some of those POs are for the same LLs?). And that's with c35 staff brought in to run the scheme.

Unfortunately they have been given the opportunity to reapply so I'm keeping a close eye on their communications (which are obviously atrocious).

by Mick Roberts

13:10 PM, 6th July 2021, About 3 months ago

Find the audit office that audit your council.once a year and if u demonstrate enough evidence to show waste of money, they will do an investigation. I've got one started into Nottinghams Imbeciles Labour Selective Licensing tenant rip off tax scheme.

Nottingham at Dec 2019 had £10 million quid in from 20,000 houses by way of rent increases from tenants and they found 200 bad houses. That's awful odds of 1% success rate.

They have however fined lots of Landlords £2k + for no license. Even if the house was good.

And yes, they get 20 year old kids to tell us how to rent houses out.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

BECOME A MEMBER