Landlords in Rotherham have called for a judicial review of local authority plans to introduce a licensing scheme.
The move echoes the recent successful legal action by a landlord against a similar idea in Enfield, north London.
The Rotherham scheme, in line with many others around the country, requires landlords to apply for a five year permit costing £625 for each property they let.
Now the Rotherham Action Group, a landlords’ body, has notified the local authority of a potential legal challenge to the proposal, which comes into effect in May and applies to four specific parts of the local authority’s patch.
It will be a criminal offence for a landlord to operate in a licensing area without a licence. Landlords who do not comply with the conditions of the licence could be fined.
The possible challenge follows on from a plea by the National Landlords Association to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, asking him to query the status of the landlord licensing system proposal in Rotherham.
The entire leadership of Rotherham council stood down earlier this month after a report into sex abuse suggested the authority was ‘in denial’ and ‘not fit for purpose’. Commissioners have now been sent in to run the authority.
“The NLA believes that this decision [to introduce licensing for landlords] was not taken in the best interests of the local community and should be overturned” says a letter to Pickles from NLA chief executive Richard Lambert.
It goes on: “The council consulted on the introduction of selective licensing at the beginning of 2014. In the summer the council found there was no need for the introduction of such a scheme. There was alternatively a commitment to greater cooperation with the NLA and local groups to create a better private rented sector without recourse to discretionary licensing.
“We propose that the policy be over-turned by the commissioners .... Any final decision could then be taken by a new council in 2016, which will have a strong elected mandate.”