Brent Council’s application to extend its selective licensing scheme in the wards of Willesden Green, Harlesden and Wembley Central have been rejected by Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP.
The council had also hoped to extend the scheme to 10 new wards in the borough, following a consultation last year.
However, the government has said today more evidence would be needed before approval could be given.
The RLA objected to the plans during a consultation last year, on the basis the council already has the necessary tools to tackle poor housing management and conditions, it just needs to properly enforce them.
It has welcomed today’s news – which follows a similar ruling last month when an application by Liverpool City Council to renew its citywide landlord licensing scheme was rejected.
The RLA believes such licensing schemes are ineffective and brought in by councils who want to be seen to be doing something to tackle criminal landlords without actually doing anything to root them out, using them as little more than a cash machine.
Licensing is not the answer
John Stewart, policy manager for the RLA said: “We all want to see bad landlords driven out of the sector.
“However, licensing is not the answer. All it does is identify the good landlords who register and then tax them. They do nothing to flush out the criminals who stay under the radar.
“Instead, councils should use the wealth of data they can already access to find landlords and target resources to properly enforce the wide range of powers they have to deal with unsafe and sub-standard rented housing.”
The council said it was ‘disappointed’ with the decision but has not given up.
Councillor Eleanor Southwood, Brent Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Naturally we’re disappointed not to have gotten this done at the first attempt and frustrated at this setback in our aims to improve safety and drive up housing standards for the borough’s private tenants.
“If the government need to see more evidence then that’s exactly what we’ll do. We know that licensing works and that it benefits everyone: tenants, landlords and neighbourhoods.”
All privately rented properties in the wards of Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queens Park are still required to be licensed, as well as any shared accommodation throughout the borough where there are three or more tenants living together who are not related – including those with a single tenancy.
The council said it is currently working with the government to understand what additional evidence is required. This will inform its next steps. In the meantime, the council says that work to improve safety and quality for private tenants will continue.
The announcement on the council website can be accessed here.