Licensing Consultation in Southwark

by John Daley

14:54 PM, 29th September 2014
About 4 years ago

Licensing Consultation in Southwark

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Licensing Consultation in Southwark

Southwark Council have just published their proposals for additional and selective licensing. The consultation papers and response form can be found at http://www.southwark.gov.uk/talkrent.

The proposal is for a scheme that is not generic in nature but focuses on the problems with the PRS market in Southwark. It is intended to be easy for landlords to understand and comply with. The costs are related to the income generated by the property and for competent landlords it should should not be burdensome to administer. Licensing Consultation in Southwark

Please have a look at the proposal and feel free to post your views here and complete a response form on the website.

Regards

John Daley – Southwark Council



Comments

chris wright

16:18 PM, 1st October 2014
About 4 years ago

John, thanks for the links, one curious bit of data to see included (to my mind at least) was begging - surely that goes on outside of the home and is a feature of those with no home, be that private or council - it's a bit of a stretch to associate that to PRS - lets face it loads of begging goes in in Mayfair & South Brompton are we to take these beggers hang out there because they rent flats behind Harrods & the Grovesenor Hotel?

The student cases are interesting (smoking / parties / chatting outside and leaving stuff by the bins at the end of term) - how does Southwark proceed when the property is leased to a university - as you know they dont need a license so that being the case it's fair to say you have no powers in the same situations?

It seems to me the flytipping is covered by existing laws as are unkempt gardens etc. The fire example was a poor one - as we know Southwark Council have a dreadful record in this area as the enquiry found a botched refurb at Lakanal House killed 6 people.

Jim Parsler

13:27 PM, 2nd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Many councils have looked to licensing and seem to think that it is a panacea for all ills in their area. What seems to be overlooked is the often unforeseen impact that licensing has had in other areas. The implmentation of a licensing scheme sends a message to the world in genreal that the area has material problems that cannot been dealt with by existing legislative tools that the council has available. When this status becomes known to the varous banks and insurers the area gets flagged as higher risk, as a consequence insurance premiums go up for everyone not just the landlords, also mortgage lending tends to be restricted and so also goes up in price, as the area becomes "redlined".

Our initial foray into investment property was when we bought my mother in laws flat that she inherited when her mum died. This was in Cliftonville in Thanet and whilst a generic 2 bed it was close to a nice beach and the shops and therefore had fairly good rental propspects. The area was also undergoing some uplift as investors were buying properties there and there was also development funding going into nearby Margate. However Cliftonville fell into the selective licensing area and since then the only tenants we have been able to get are unemployed rather than working, the value of the property has dropped about 20%, and the area has started to stagnate. So the impact of the licensing is almost the exact opposite of what it was hoping to achieve rather than uplift the area it has had a rather negative impact.

What is needed in most cases is the correct enforcement of existing powers by councils rather than licensing, the funds from which cannot be used to fund additional enforcement officers as many councils mistakenly believe. You should also engage with the landlords in the area to get them on side, as mostly you will find tha tthey also want to let to well mannered and respectful tenants.

John Daley

13:41 PM, 2nd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Chris,

Begging is one of the categories of ASB mentioned in the Act. I agree that it is not as strongly linked to the PRS as other types of ASB such as rowdy neghbours or noise complaints. Most begging in Southwark is in the Cathedrals area and we have not proposed to selectively licence that area.

The case studies are all PRS related. It would not make a lot of sense to include examples that are not related to licenseable property.

I think the reference to Lakanal House is disgraceful. How can anyone make a cheap point about the PRS in relation to a fatal fire in a council block. If this is the the way of it you have lost my respect and I won't go on with this.

chris wright

13:49 PM, 2nd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "02/10/2014 - 13:41":

When it comes to fire risk Lakanal is a recent example of housing management gone wrong - you raised the fire risk in your examples i found an example of poor management and fire in Southwark - this building was under the full control of Southwark council, did anyone face court for this disgraceful state of affairs?

Victoria Morris

19:58 PM, 2nd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Hallo John.

Among the licensing conditions mentioned in your consultation documents there is a requirement for the fire doors to open outwards into the escape routes, and for the fire doors to kitchen areas to have fire-resistant observation glass panes. I had my property fire-risk assessed by an accredited firm, and I had discussions with the London fire brigade and they have confirmed that both these conditions are not applicable for HMOs.

To my mind, in the event of a fire in a residential property which normally has a staircase of no more than 1m wide, outward opening doors would actually impede evacuation of the upper floors.

Can you please clarify on which piece of legislation is your requirement/proposal based on ?

thank you

chris wright

9:05 AM, 3rd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Victoria - as you've pointed out on a matter of huge importance (fire risk) the current proposals Southwark have drafted point to HMO owners having to spend money to modify their properties to exceed the existing HMO fire safety requirements. I will watch with interest to see what justification or evidence the council has to support its proposals to enforce such conditions - issues like this scotch any notion its going to be low cost to decent landlords so just get behind it and sign up etc.

John Daley

15:45 PM, 3rd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Hi Victoria,

The requirement for doors to open in the direction of escape is in the RRO 2005 Sec 14 Para 2 d. This is applicable to all domestic accomodation. Its also mentioned in the Government Guidance for Sleeping accomodation, which specifically applies to HMO's.

I am a bit surprised the LFB and an accredited assessor have offered advice contrary to the RRO and the govt guidance.

With regard to the glazing question I have referred that to a colleague to give me an answer.

The draft standards ask for items that are at a cost however the most costly items, for example fire detection systems arise directly from guidance in the documents mentioned.

The HMO generates more income than a single family dwelling in Southwark but presents additional management challenges, which is one of the reasons why we we have a duty under the HA 2005 to set standards for HMO's

Should we avoid reference to fire safety because it has a cost to implement ? Surely we have a duty as a regulator to set guidance on what we think is good practice and act accordingly.

chris wright

16:10 PM, 3rd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "John Daley" at "03/10/2014 - 15:45":

Was the unified code for fire safety not good enough for Southwark here? - My contact in the LFB said there is no requirement for glass in kitchen doors except in commercial situations, Southwark introduce proposals to make them conditional on HMO's, if this proceeds LL's will face criminal prosecution for failing to exceed the unified code - unless Southwark can show they've had this approved by LFB and a new code is being introduced i think they're overstepping their remit and LFB will be having their say on the subject.

John Daley

16:20 PM, 3rd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Please can you post a link to the 'unified code for fire safety' I googled it and nothing relevant came up.

LFB have been consulted on our proposals and I am sure they will respond if they think our standards are unreasonable.

chris wright

16:26 PM, 3rd October 2014
About 4 years ago

Lets not forget the purpose behind selective/additional licensing schemes is either to tackle ASB or deal with low demand, now we see one council using it to change fire safety standards. By all means provide evidence and propose changes to lax fire standards when you find them but do it in the normal way not tacked onto the back of an ASB project.

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