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.