Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
I have just seen the article by solicitor Giles Peaker on his excellent blog “Nearly Legal”, which relates to a recent case in which LB Richmond’s HMO Licence Fees have been found to be unlawful, as they were set in breach of an EU Directive.
The issue was whether private letting of accommodation was a service for the purposes of EU Directive 2006/123/EC. If it was, then the licence fee would be restricted to just the apportioned costs of processing the application, not the broader costs of the operation and enforcement of the licensing scheme.
The court concluded that the private letting of accommodation amounts to a service within the meaning of the Services Directive. The Court held that LB Richmond’s fee for an HMO licence was unlawful because it was not strictly limited to the costs to LB Richmond of processing the licence application. Accordingly LB Richmond had not been entitled to demand the fee which it had demanded.
While this may still allow Councils to charge a fee for HMO/Selective licensing, it would appear to limit the fee to the cost of processing the application only.
Giles Peaker does point out that this case may be appealed by the LB Richmond, but in the meantime, for anyone disputing HMO or Selective Licensing, this case should perhaps be brought to the attention of the landlord’s legal representatives.
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