An article in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday has accused councils of persecuting private landlords with a raft of new and unfair charges.
The article by journalist Richard Dyson says landlords are being viewed by local authorities as “cash cows ripe for milking”. The two main costs the article discusses are those for selective licensing and council tax.
Dyson quotes Alan Ward, chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, as saying that new costs for landlords are “a creeping plague” which risk pushing landlords to the point where letting is no longer viable.
Meanwhile the National Landlords Association (NLA) chairman Richard Lambert said the NLA was planning legal action against a number of local authorities to fight back against the rising costs.
Mandatory licensing for certain types of landlord – those who run HMOs, for example – has been in place since 2006. But selective licensing arrangements are viewed by many landlords as little more than a cash-raising exercise.
Lambert pointed out that the legal position is that money raised through a licence should cover only the administrative costs of that licensing process, and cannot be used to raise money for social or other spending. Another issue is that only responsible landlords pay up – rogue landlords typically dodge the fees.
At a landlord conference last week it was suggested that one council had raised £6m in under two years through the register.
The other issue raised in the article was new legislation which allowed local authorities discretion in the council tax discounts and exemptions they rewarded to property owners and tenants. The changes mean landlords now often have to pay the full council tax rate during brief void periods and are often billed for just a day or two – even if the administrative work involved outweighed the tax collected.