Landlords rebel against licencing scheme

Landlords rebel against licencing scheme

Landlords in a London borough have started a campaign against a plan for local licensing, in what may become a wave of resistance against council regulation of the PRS.

“Enfield Landlords” has been set up to oppose the local council proposal to charge a £575 five-year licence for each landlord-owned property. To secure a licence a landlord, through their agent, must secure references from tenants and provide evidence that their properties conform with environment and health and safety legislation.

But group leader Edgar Meto says the proposal is based on “the flawed premise that privately rented homes are the key drivers of anti-social behaviour in the borough.”

The council told Estate Agent Today that there is “a pattern of anti-social behaviour linked to the private rented sector” and that current measures are not “adequately addressing the reduction of levels of unacceptable behaviour.” Failure to have a licence could see landlords receiving fines of up to £20,000.

The Enfield Landlords rebellion is one of a growing number of campaigns against further council interference in the PRS in different localities.

At Burnley in Lancashire, where a local licensing scheme was introduced five years ago and is now up for consultation about its continuation, some landlords are arguing against.

One landlord wrote, anonymously, to a Burnley newspaper saying: “£850,000 has been mentioned as the amount Burnley Council could receive in licensing fees. A management charge, if even warranted, should be open to competitive tendering from outside consultants who are not burdened by the excessive overhead costs at Burnley Council and should be able to offer a more realistic management fee.”

Sheffield council has nominated a number of areas for a landlord licensing scheme along the lines of Enfield’s, again stating that this is because of an alleged link with growing anti-social behaviour issues. Under the Housing Act 2004, councils can introduce Selective Licensing in areas suffering low housing demand or “significant and persistent anti-social behaviour.”

Brent council in north London is considering such a move for up to 10,000 landlords in its private rented sector. Meanwhile Newham Council in east London says that in its first year of compulsory licensing over 130 landlords have been prosecuted, many for allegedly failing to provide accommodation of an appropriate standard. The council conducts early-morning raids to check on properties.