Landlords launch legal challenges over HMO licensing

Landlords launch legal challenges over HMO licensing

15:59 PM, 12th May 2011, About 13 years ago

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Old wooden Gavel Hundreds of landlords are mounting two legal challenges against council policies over planning and licensing for shared houses.

Landlords in Accrington, Lancashire and Margate, Kent, are preparing cases for judicial review in the High Court to force their local councils to rethink how they enforce house in multiple occupation (HMO) laws.

Around 350 landlords have won the right to argue their case against Hyndburn Council’s decision to impose selective licensing on 1,326 HMOs in Accrington and the surrounding area in March 2010.

The landlords claim the council did not consult properly on the move.

The council argued the landlord application to the court was out of time, but this was rejected.

Meanwhile, the Southern Landlords Association (SLA) is pressing Thanet Council to rethink selective licensing on the grounds that the policy was introduced to control antisocial behaviour by shared house tenants without proving they were responsible for any disruption.

The SLA web site explains the landlords are reluctant to take the issue to court, but had no other option as they considered the council’s action inappropriate and illegal.

Spokesman Mike Stimpson said the SLA applied to the High Court for leave for a judicial review and is awaiting a response.

Selective licensing comes in two parts:

  • A council can extend licensing in a neighbourhood to HMOs that do not meet mandatory HMO licensing requirements.
  • A council can enforce selective licensing to cover all privately rented property in a neighbourhood that is or is likely to become an area of low housing demand and/or suffers significant and persistent anti-social behaviour.

The regulation of HMOs has become a battleground between landlords, councils and the government.

Earlier this year, a group of landlords and letting agents threatened to take Oxford City Council to court in another disagreement over planning for HMOs. The council withdrew and revamped their proposals to avoid legal action.

In April, councils in Milton Keynes, Newcastle upon Tyne, Oxford and Charnwood (Loughborough) lost another High Court judicial review that called government policy on HMOs in to question.

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