Racism row breaks out over city's plans for licensing scheme

Racism row breaks out over city's plans for licensing scheme

Bitter arguments have broken out over plans by a city council to introduce additional licensing for Houses of Multiple Occupation.

Asian landlords say that they own many of the properties that would be affected, and have accused Nottingham Council of discrimination.

Separately, the Residential Landlords Association has said that a judicial review could be mounted. It says the council has not given any reason for introducing the licensing scheme, and that its proposed charge of £1,000 for a five-year licence is up to ten times more than other councils levy for licences.

In Bristol, the charge is £100, while Newham launched its controversial blanket licensing scheme for an initial charge of £150.

The RLA also claims that the consultation exercise in Nottingham breached data protection rules, because it revealed some personal data to do with complaints.

The council is proposing that in an area covering the wards of Radford and Park, Arboretum, Berridge, and Mapperley, the new licensing scheme would require landlords to obtain a licence to rent out property with three or more tenants.

Landlords in the area say that many of them are owned by Asians and that the plan amounts to discrimination. One of the landlords, Shad Ali, organised an open meeting over the issue and claims that the council refused to attend.

The council denies the claims.

Ali said: “Since the 1960s when we arrived here we have been investing heavily in the rented sector. It is very much in our economic make-up to buy property. This is going to affect one particular group of people more than another.”

He says the Asian community feels threatened by the move, adding: “We have supported the city council for many years. The way the council treats us as a business community is shocking.”

Some 70 landlords attended the meeting, he said.

Cllr Alex Ball denied the council was being discriminatory. He said: “I don’t believe the statistics exist to verify that.

“This is a policy that we’re looking to implement to improve the quality of housing for citizens in Nottingham.”