Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 2 weeks ago 36
Labour-controlled Oxford council says it’s confident a huge new Revenue Generating licensing scheme for one of Britain’s most high-profile cities will be voted through today, but it admits there’s a big clash of opinions between landlords and agents on the one hand, and the council and other respondents to a consultation exercise.
Oxford council will this afternoon decide whether to renew an additional licensing scheme for HMOs and bring in a NEW ‘selective licensing’ scheme covering ALL privately rented homes in the city.
However, because the combined schemes are so large they will require government approval – a process that may take some months and if landlords are lucky the government will reject it as unjustified as they did with Liverpool City Council’s money grab.
During the consultation, to which less than 3.7% of landlords and tenants responded, they draw a number of statistically invalid conclusion such as:
* nearly two-thirds of (hardly any) respondents agreed additional HMO licensing had been effective in improving conditions
* 72 per cent (of hardly any respondents) supporting renewal of the scheme.
* More than two thirds (of next to nobody) agreed with the introduction of selective licensing.
It would be hard to find a single landlord with that opinion bringing into question the validity of the sample of respondents. We calculate that less than 800 probably took part. Councils are very good at holding consultation that they hardly tell anyone about!
Almost exactly 50 per cent of all Oxford’s homes are now privately rented and the council claims an independent review shows that 6,200 of the 30,500 homes in Oxford’s private rented sector “could” have a serious housing hazard.
Interestingly, unlike most councils, Oxford City Council avoids submitting to the Government, the number of Category 1 Serious Housing Hazards in its own rental properties to be counted together with the other 5,670 such properties list on the Government’s Report Local Housing Statistics reports. One can only begin to imagine why!
In the last five years, the council received 3,360 complaints from private renters about 2,990 properties – around 10% of all privately rented homes. During this time the council served 2,451 housing and public health notices and carried out 4,058 investigations into anti-social behaviour related to private rented housing – statistics they produce all the time in order to try to make out that somehow anti-social behaviour that the councils and the police are incapable of sorting out is somehow the landlords’ fault!
Back in 2011, Oxford was the first English council to bring in a citywide additional licensing scheme requiring all HMOs to be licensed. If agreed by the council and the government, this new selective licensing scheme could be put in place for five years in 2022 making the council not only multiple £10,000,000s in licensing revenue, it will create a business funnel of many multiples of that in Civil Penalty Fines to systematically take landlords’ money off them for the council coffers.
Oxford Labour councillor Alex Hollingsworth says:
“We recognise there are strong differences of opinion between landlords and agents on the one hand, and tenants, residents and organisational representatives on the other. However, there is broad consensus that there are issues in the private rented sector which do need addressing, and we believe that licensing is the best way of doing this.”
Councillors are fed this rubbish from their housing departments on a weekly basis. The poor darlings really have no idea how much they are being played by the council financial revenue departments.
And he continues: “Half of homes in Oxford are now privately rented, so bringing in licensing across the whole sector will help us to deliver on our plans to protect tenants, drive up standards and crackdown on rogue landlords. A clear majority of tenants and residents agree with our approach and back our plans.”
In the consultation, there were 1,987 responses to an open consultation questionnaire, with another 53 letters and email submissions from stakeholders choosing to provide their views in writing. Considering there are 24,000 landlords and 30,000 tenants that is a survey of just 3.6% and has no statistical validity whatsoever.
The announcement today by Oxford City Council contained a load more ’statistics, but since they have no statistical validity we are not going to waste any more ink in reporting their twaddle here.
Properties which should be licensed and are not, expose the owner, letting agent and rent-to-rent operator to criminal prosecution or Civil Penalty Fines up to £30,000.
Properties which do not meet the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS) requirements can lead to Enforcement Action including Improvement Notices, Prohibition Orders and Banning Orders which if not complied with can lead to Civil Penalty fines up to £30,000 or criminal prosecution.
HMOs (which commence at 3 persons sharing of which 2 are unrelated) that are not compliant with the Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation (England/Wales) Regulations 2006 can result in the Responsible Persons receiving Civil Penalties of £30,000 per breach of the regulations.
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