Campaigns Local Government North West Region

Blackburn and Darwen licensing scheme fee structure ‘unlawful’-RLA

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

The RLA is warning that part of a selective licensing scheme that is currently in operation in Blackburn and Darwen is unlawful.

In a letter to the Council, which you can read here, the RLA is concerned that the way that fees are currently being charged to landlords as part of the licensing scheme is against the law.


As part of the Council’s current selective licensing scheme, which came into force in 2017, a licence holder pays a fee of £750 per property, with an annual fee of £150 for that property.

The RLA considers the part of the fee structure to be unlawful, because it is unlawful for a Council to charge an applications fee followed by an annual fee, for each year the licence is maintained.


In the letter to the council, the RLA has also warned that it is not acceptable for the council to charge per annum for a licence, and that the fee is chargeable in respect of the application and, while it may include other costs in running a scheme that does not permit a charge which amounts to an annual subscription.

Charging the full amount of the licence fee on application does not accord with the decision of the Administrative Court in Gaskin v Richmond Upon Thames (2018) EWHC 1996 (Admin) and is unlawful for the same reasons as the payment structure there was found to be unlawful.

This is because payment must be split into a charge for the application component and a Part Two payment which should only be sought if the application is successful and covers the cost of running and enforcing the scheme. Part Two payments should only be paid once the licence has been granted and issued to the now licence holder. You can read more about the Gaskin court case here.

The association is now calling for an urgent review of the licensing scheme.

Learn more:

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • Is that supposed to say a fee of £750 PLUS an annual £150 fee? If so, that is shocking, more rent rises & Landlords selling & homeless then. Look at your other councils. All Licensing has done has made good houses good landlords good tenants houses worse. Meanwhile the bad landlords have stayed quiet & not come forward.
    And homeless has risen massively through Landlords selling & Landlords keeping, now only rent to the most perfect tenants. Leaving HB tenants with nowhere to go.

  • Yet another way to screw landlords over. Why not a certificate that the property meets required spec paying say a £120 fee to obtain a certificate . Simple it makes more money since to screw the landlords yet again. Not satisfied that we have paid 3% extra tax and then thousands for bringing the property up to standard lets find yet more ways to take them to the cleaners. Anymore of this and my only option is get rid and let the councils screw someone over.

  • There is a misunderstanding here. There is no additional fees, the £150 pa referred to is the £750 split over 5 years, which is £150pa.
    Bit surprised at the RLA making such a mistake. However in their defence the wording on the Council website could be better to clarify this.

    • Hi Paul, Blackburn Council clarified with the RLA that they offer landlords the option to pay the licence fee annually, as opposed to in additional to the licence fee. The council stated that they will amend the document and update their website for future viewing to avoid any further confusion.

      Samantha Watkin,
      Policy officer

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