Selective Licensing Consultations

by Mark Alexander

11:33 AM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Selective Licensing Consultations

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Selective Licensing Consultations
Selective Licensing Consultations

Landlord Opposition Groups MUST must work together!

Each time a new selective licensing consultation period begins in another local authority area we receive another post from another disgruntled landlord.

From now on, proposed articles regarding all new Selective Licensing Consultations will be directed to this discussion thread.

It appears that landlords seem to bury their heads in the sand and don’t tackle this problem, which is spreading like a virus across the UK, until such time as it affects them personally.

Groups are then formed in isolation of the the bigger picture. The same things are discussed but there is little if any joined up thinking or collaboration with similar groups.

The time has come to pool information on one single thread.

Take a lead from those landlord groups who have successfully defended against selective licensing. It is far better to learn from other peoples successes!

Learn from the successes of Milton Keynes – see the following linked threads:-

Milton Keynes abandon Selective Licensing

Milton Keynes Landlords Claim Second Victory Over Licensing 

To understand what is being discussed in other areas see these threads:-

Enforcement not legislation – PRS Hit Squads | Property118.com

Additional Licensing Judicial Review | Property118.com

Landlord Licensing Schemes – Raising Standards or Raising Funds?

Selective Licensing – Liverpool landlord needs help | Property118.com

Newham Council new Landlord Licensing – advice needed 

Licensing Consultation in Southwark | Property118.com

Croydon yet another area to introduce Selective Licensing

HMO Licensing Fees – Oxford

Enfield – Licensing meeting | Property118.com

Ipswich Council refunding landlord licensing fees after Court of Appeal ruling

Oldham – Selective Licensing?

Landlords launch legal challenges over HMO licensing

Alternative to licensing/accreditation? Bad landlords, look away now 

Councils lose Court cases over HMO licence fees

HMO licence fees up 650 percent

HMO Landlords Celebrate Victory Over Reduced Licencing Fees

Newham are not granting any further change of use permissions 



Comments

Lesley Eddy

12:12 PM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

As a breed, us landlords do seem to be quite insular, and totally agree and think that instead of moaning and groaning to ourselves that it is about time we all got together and made our voices heard. The country would be in a bit of a state if we all gave up!

Mandy Thomson

12:19 PM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Good idea to consolidate all the posts and data, Mark. However, there's so much of it here - had you thought about publishing it all in a book??!! ";)"

Mark Alexander

12:36 PM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mandy Thomson" at "23/11/2014 - 12:19":

I have too many other priorities Mandy.
.

Mark Alexander

12:54 PM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

A common thread across all consultation papers seems to be a massive bias.

Have any landlords ever read a consultation paper or local authority proposals which provide a concise overview of the opposing arguments; for example:-

1) That restricting incentive to create homes is highly unlikely to have an impact on ASB

2) That some areas are likely to depreciate in value

3) That additional red tape and associated costs will drive up rents

4) That there is no clear evidence that licensing improves standards

5) That the real issues of the housing crisis is lack of supply and new building

6) That the only legal justification for selective licensing is to reduce ASB and that there is no evidence that it works

7) That local authorities already have powers to deal with dangerous and over-crowded housing WITHOUT the need for further selective licensing

8) The it is illegal for funds raised from Selective Licensing to be used for anything other than administering the scheme

9) That criminals masquerading as landlords who ignore the existing laws are equally unlikely to respect new laws

10) That any fines are the property of the treasury and not the prosecuting council, hence there is no additional incentive created for Councils to prosecute

11) That many council officers dealing directly with issues reported by landlords and tenants don't agree with the principles of selective licensing but many are too shy to own up.

12) That selective licensing is more likely to be promoted by those with a political or career based agenda in order to create or save public sector jobs.

....... and so the list goes on!

Please feel free to add to mine.
.

Don Holmes

16:03 PM, 23rd November 2014
About 4 years ago

I am disappointed to advise we on the Wirral are following suit. The consultation period has just began, I attended a meeting a couple weeks ago and although the officer chairing the meeting was adamant that it is just that "a consultation" process, he would not take my bet when I suggested " It will not matter what we argue it will be imposed at some point"
Its disappointing in other ways as well, Wirral are just following the Liverpool model not even using any imagination, £500 per 5 year licence and sold as only £3 quid a day!!!

I will be following this closely and exposing the local argument as it develops.
Thanks Don

Ollie Cornes

9:31 AM, 24th November 2014
About 4 years ago

I responded (at length) to the "consultation" in Barking & Dagenham and it is quite clear from the way it was handled and what happened since that the whole process was a sham. It's my view that these schemes are being put in place for entirely political reasons, with politicians using them to be "seen to be doing something about landlords". It does not solve the crux of the problem which is how to find and enforce against real rogues, who will ignore these silly schemes.

After Barking & Dagenham decided to proceed with their scheme I asked them to tell me what I'd get and what my tenants would get for my £500 per property (I actually ended up paying £180 as I applied early). I asked them many times during that phone conversation and they came up with not one benefit to me or my tenants. In fact they conceded there was a downside to my tenants as I paid the licensing fees out of the repair budget, which delayed some improvements to properties.

Someone should pay for more enforcement, but it should be FAR higher fines for those prosecuted, not taxing the good landlords who these councils are alienating.

I suggest landlords with properties in areas looking at licensing:
- Respond to the consultation and kick up a stink. Talk to councillors if you can.
- Join the NLA, they are invariably very involved in trying to dissuade these stupid schemes. Support what they are doing.
- If the scheme goes ahead, get in early and get licenses at the lowest cost you can.
- If you're brave and have some free time, make a legal challenge to the basis of the scheme. My understanding is these schemes have a legal basis on Anti Social Behaviour, but in Barking & Dagenham they mandate Portable Appliance Testing (not fixed wiring testing, which might actually make some sense) which I strongly suspect is legal overreach and renders the scheme unlawful.

I hope that in due course statistics will be collated of the areas these schemes are in place showing how little impact they have on enforcement success, which would work rather better with intelligence-led efforts rather than starting with the assumption all landlords are criminals.

Mark Alexander

9:52 AM, 24th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ollie Cornes" at "24/11/2014 - 09:31":

Hi Ollie

You say "Someone should pay for more enforcement" - well isn't that what Council Tax is for?

Selective Licensing is being abused.

There is no connection with ASB and the PRS which justifies blanket licensing of huge areas.
.
.

Ollie Cornes

9:59 AM, 24th November 2014
About 4 years ago

It seems to me councils do not have the resources to properly investigate and enforce against rogue operators, and a solution to that problem is drastically higher fines. The fines I see in the press for serious persistent breaches are often so low as to not be a deterrent at all. You're right in theory it should come from council tax, but in the current environment any extra spend is likely to need raising.

I agree the ASB basis for selective licensing is being abused. It's absurd. It is a shame councils do not realise they are alienating the good landlords by doing this, just at a time when demand for housing is so high and they need to work with the good landlords.

Council: "You need to buy a licence and pay a fee
Landlord: "Why?"
Council: "So we have funds to run the licensing scheme, provide you with a license, and bill you"

It's a classic example of regulation for the sake of regulation (looking to be taking action), rather than it actually being effective at solving the (very real) problems in the sector.

I gather Barking & Dagenham had a very large number of licence applications. It's been several months since I applied, and I've heard nothing. Money into a black hole that should have been spent on a new boiler.

Mark Alexander

10:06 AM, 24th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ollie Cornes" at "24/11/2014 - 09:59":

Hi Ollie

Fines don't go back to the Council, that's problem #1

I don't buy into the resource argument either, the Councils set their own budgets for Council Tax. They should factor in the enforcement of ASB and housing into that budget. I don't think it's right that Councils should blame resource given that they are in complete control of it.

That's a bit like me saying I don't have time to do something. Of course I do, I have as many seconds in each of my days as anybody else of this planet. I simply chose to use my time in different ways.
.

Ollie Cornes

10:12 AM, 24th November 2014
About 4 years ago

Yes, fines go centrally, which needs to change. If councils can produce some revenue from prosecutions it gives them a reason to enforce against the rogues. Currently most don't do very much.

I understand your argument about resources,and to a degree I agree with you, but unless they raise more funds somewhere they have to cut some other service to enforce more against landlords. Some might argue why take funds from these other areas to enforce against landlords, THEY should pay (which is probably how we ended up here). If fines went to the council that problem goes away. The fines should also be a lot higher - especially where the breaches relate to health/safety and the landlord has refused to resolve them.

I actively support drastically more enforcement than happens now, but I think rogues should pay. Tenants need more protection from rogues, and good landlords benefit from a broad raising of standards, closing down the crappier end of the market.

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