Selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off

Selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off

14:39 PM, 20th October 2022, About 2 years ago 12

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Let’s call selective licensing for landlords what it is: an unfair mandatory tax that is a massive rip-off.

Sure, council officers and councillors will tell everyone how they are going to crack down on rogue landlords, but they don’t actually do that.

Selective licensing does, however, appear to be a legalised job creation scheme for council staff. And why do I say that?

Because the councils do.

They aren’t embarrassed to say that the selective licensing fee is to help pay for officers to run the scheme. There may be a hint about investigating properties – but in reality, we know it won’t happen.

Hard work finding the criminal landlords

And that’s because it’s too much like hard work finding the criminal landlords who will never sign up.

Instead, it’s the good and decent landlords offering quality homes that get hammered every time.

We have to spend more money – which will put the rent up – to comply with nonsense legislation.

And let’s make this absolutely clear as to why I believe that selective licensing for landlords is a massive rip-off:

Councils ALREADY have the powers to clamp down on rogue landlords.

What difference will filling in a form do? Nothing, that’s what.

Criminal landlords being brought to book

And no council – you can prove me wrong in the comments below – has ever revealed how successful their selective licensing scheme has been. No data on criminal landlords being brought to book, or what work was needed to improve properties. Nothing.

I’ve talked before about unintended consequences and licensing schemes will probably be the final nail for a lot of fed-up landlords. Why do we bother?

The criminal landlords will still be criminals offering unsuitable and unsafe properties, while decent landlords get shafted with a bill for a five-year license.

That means that rather than improving rented homes, the council reduces the numbers that are available. Let’s spell that out for any councillors reading this:

  • Squeezed landlords are being squeezed more – without a profit, we can’t offer a home to rent
  • Squeezed tenants then face a rent rise – or being made homeless
  • Criminal landlords remain unaffected
  • Fed-up landlords leave the sector and sell up.

But don’t worry councillors, think of all those juicy, well-paid jobs you have created. Congratulations!

Proposals for selective licensing

I don’t disagree that the wording on the proposals for selective licensing and I appreciate that it plays well to your constituents because all landlords are awful, aren’t they? Taking all that lovely rent money and not investing in their property.

But that’s not true. And you know it – or should do if you bothered to speak with any of us.

So, let’s take a look at the paperwork.

I was intrigued by a story on Property118 about the additional licensing scheme in Walsall. Same old, same old, I thought when I read the story and decided to go to the website.

It made clear that accredited landlords would have to pay £850 – or get the ‘early bird’ appetiser of £745. But non-accredited landlords will have to fork out £1,065 – or £910 for the discount.

Where do they get these figures from?

Tighter regulation and higher fees

The report to the council also highlights that most of the people who responded to the public consultation wanted tighter regulation and higher fees. Many didn’t want HMOs at all. I even watched the video from the council meeting (Yes, I should get out more) and all the opinions of landlords were uniformly bad.

Then there was Haringey council which brought in a selective licensing scheme and a move to improve the property’s EPC rating (though they don’t specify what the rating should be – natch). No details about how this will be done, other than with ‘support and education’.

Their license will cost £600, or £350 per property if landlords get in early.

The comments on that particular story also highlight that Haringey is tying its license to the conduct of the tenants – and holding the landlord responsible. Eh? How do we control them?

Section 21 notice to deal with anti-social behaviour

Just wait until a landlord hands out a Section 21 notice to deal with anti-social behaviour and have the same council jump up and down. The same department will probably tell the anti-social tenants to sit tight and wait for the bailiffs – costing landlords even more money.

This brings me nicely to Manchester’s latest ruse. Again, reported on Property118, I went to the website and found it would cost up to £85,000 to set this extended scheme up. Of course, this amount ‘will be fully funded’ by the license fee.

They should have said it would be paid for by compliant and honest landlords, leaving criminal landlords with nothing to fear.

Councillors were told in a report that the scheme will focus enforcement efforts on the worst properties and landlords. Councils can also fine a landlord £30,000 for non-compliance.

Though Manchester makes clear that since 2017 when a pilot scheme was launched, they have collected just £10,055.60 in fines. That’s from just 14 civil penalties.

They also point out that 1,741 properties in Manchester are licensed, 281 have been inspected and 214 have had remedial works carried out. Don’t ask what the work was – there are no details.

If selective licensing for landlords isn’t a massive rip-off

So, if selective licensing for landlords isn’t a massive rip-off and local authorities want to improve standards – why don’t they license landlords instead? Why do they demand money per property? Why don’t they use the powers they already have?

Not only will a council be able to track and deal with errant landlords more easily, but their licensing scheme will be more manageable as a result.

And let’s not kid ourselves that finding and dealing with criminal landlords is the aim of selective licensing – councils aren’t interested in the hard work that it takes to deal with them. And they don’t want to deal with homeless tenants who will have nowhere to live if they do decide to act.

Which brings us back to fed-up landlords selling their rental properties because selective licensing is nothing but a big fat expensive rip-off for decent landlords.

Until next time,

The Landlord Crusader


Read last week’s article ‘Bad tenants, worse politicians, S21 – is it over for landlords?’ – I really am that despondent!

 ‘Housing crisis? What housing crisis?’ – But don’t think that I am a Conservative voter/supporter

And the previous missive that provoked a lot of interesting debate about holding a Section 21 Day. Landlords – hold that thought!

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Ross Tulloch

11:20 AM, 22nd October 2022, About 2 years ago

Yes, all it has meant to 12 of our tenants is for us to evict them and sell because of the minimum room sizes mean that a room would need to remain empty as it is under 6.51m. Actually not strictly licensing sizes but a country wide rule.

Mick Roberts

6:08 AM, 18th November 2022, About A year ago

Excuse my delay.

Up to a few months ago, Nottingham had found about 600 bad houses. Out of 20,000.
Meaning over 19,000 tenants that already had good houses, had rent increases to pay for it. And their houses got worse as repairs funds were spent on Licensing. 97% had zero problems & paid for it.

I have zero competition in Nottingham now. If a tenant ever does go, which is rare, I can charge the earth for the next tenant-And I have to cause I never know where the next attack is coming from.

Worst thing is, the Councillor in charge of Licensing with ZERO knowledge of renting houses out, also knows how much the homeless department is now paying out in hotels & emergency accommodation & deposits & rents up front to Landlords as he's in charge of that too.
In Nottingham we now have two Labour Councillors actually questioning is Licensing worth it with the majority paying?

Not once have they been to see me or my tenants who have asked them many times. I'm their biggest Private provider to Benefit tenants & no communication.
None of my tenants want it-Where is their choice?

Look at these conditions for Nottingham & tell me unless you are a University Professor, could you carry on?

This is aimed at tenants:
Most of u r very good. But are u perfect? Read Licensing conditions and tell yourself:
1. Could u comply with all them.
2. Would u take any tenant on that wasn't the most prim proper person ever?
3. If u was a landlord getting older, would u want to be dealing with that for EVERY house EVERY tenant?
4. Could u be doing with giving out 200 pages to each tenant each house.
5. Would u take a Benefit tenant on after being told u had to comply with them conditions?
Selective Licensing conditions Feb 2022

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