Licence Fees may be unlawful

Licence Fees may be unlawful

8:12 AM, 13th August 2018, About 4 years ago 25

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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.

Robert



Comments

by Rob Crawford

6:52 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Simpson at 24/08/2018 - 03:45Ian, I think this should be a separate thread! These schemes are for letting agents. You would not qualify as a landlord so its a nonsense.

by Luke P

6:59 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

Whilst not yet in force, there is strong suggestion that redress scheme membership will also be required for individual LLs in the near future and not exclusive to agents. Ombudsman Services Property no longer accepts new members (as they are attempting to become the sole provider of the redress scheme in the sector…their argument being there’s too much confusion and no uniformity across the three offerings).

by Rob Crawford

7:10 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

As far as I am aware the only ombudsman for landlords in The Housing Ombudsman and I think this is primary for social housing.

by Luke P

7:47 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 24/08/2018 - 07:10
The others I mentioned (PRS & TPOS) and the rules are planned/expected to be expanded.

by Rob Crawford

8:00 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Luke P at 24/08/2018 - 07:47
Yes, but how does that help Ian today?

by Luke P

10:30 AM, 24th August 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 24/08/2018 - 08:00
It confirms the request is wrong for individual LLs, but perhaps goes some way to explaining where the LA took this information from.

by Rob Crawford

19:36 PM, 5th September 2018, About 4 years ago

In the light of no announcement of any appeal by Richmond-upton-Thames on this case, Bath & Bristol Local Authorities revealed today that they have (or are in the process of) introducing a two stage payment plan for licensing. Some landlords will be entitled to refunds. Details on their websites.

by Mark Alexander

19:44 PM, 5th September 2018, About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Rob Crawford at 05/09/2018 - 19:36
That reminds me, I must have another chat with Mr G about whether he decided to appeal the other issues which had been whitewashed over in previous hearings.

by Rob Crawford

20:09 PM, 8th April 2019, About 3 years ago

Does an established Housing Act 2004 takes precedence over an uncontested JR decision? I note that since the Gaskin v Richmond case, a number of Local Authorities (LA'S) have proceeded with a two part fee structure. However, I feel those LA's have adopted an approach that can surely be challenged! As far as I can understand there is still no legal way forward for Local Authorities (LA's) to charge enforcement fees! The Housing Act 2004 Part 2 section 63 (applications) only refers to one fee. Section 63 (7b) gives that costs incurred by LA's in carrying out their functions under Chapter 1 of Part 4 in relation to HMOs, i.e. enforcement activities can be charged. However, the outcome of Gaskin v Richmond gives that enforcement etc can’t be included in the application fee, it has to be charged separately! But it appears that there is no current vehicle through which LA's can do so without breaching the Housing Act 2004! I think most of us were anticipating this would be flushed out during a Richmond appeal against the JR's decision in favour of Gaskin, but no appeal was made - have LA's with two stage fees jumped the gun? Should we be appealing against the two fee structure approach - thoughts?

by Rob Crawford

9:58 AM, 10th April 2019, About 3 years ago

...apologies, amendment to the above should read: "...costs incurred by LA's in carrying out their functions under Chapter 1 of Part 4 in relation to HMOs, refers to interim management therefore it maybe illegal to charge a fee for enforcement activities."


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