Newcastle City Council says it will extend the period of time for landlords to both apply and comply with a new licensing scheme which starts next week, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A selective licensing scheme and an additional licensing scheme will commence on 6th April, but the council has confirmed that no enforcement action will be considered for non-compliance between the dates of 6th April and 6th July 2020 because of coronavirus.
The three month time frame will be under continuous review as the COVID-19 pandemic develops.
The RLA has welcomed the change of tack from Newcastle City Council.
Last week, the association wrote to the council expressing concern some landlords could be unfairly punished through enforcement action if they were unable to carry out pre-licensing duties at their properties accurately, because of circumstances out of their control-such as a tenant needing to self-isolate and landlords being unable to enter the property.
Support for landlords
The council has also reinforced that landlords should continue to follow government guidance when it comes to carrying out any compliance works or obtaining certification to accompany an application for a licence.
Landlords can apply for a licence by visiting the online application portal.
What should landlords do if they can not afford a licence or there’s another issue with applying for one?
Newcastle City Council have also made it clear that if the coronavirus has affected a landlords’ ability to apply for a licence, they should email firstname.lastname@example.org. to discuss the options available to them.
If there concerns regarding the continued day to day management of a rental property, or tenant arrears as a result of coronavirus , landlords should contact email@example.com for advice and support.
RLA writes to local authorities on enforcement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The RLA has written a letter to local authorities currently consulting on licensing schemes, such as Greenwich Council and Oldham Council, to request that consultation periods be extended. One of the reasons for this is that due to current restrictions on movement imposed by the government, landlords wont be able to attend council-run forums about the licensing schemes.
In anticipation of the RLA’s imminent merger with the NLA to form the NRLA, Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA has been in regular contact with the government raising the concerns landlords have during this time.
The NLA and the RLA are calling for a suspension of routine inspections of properties by landlords and a temporary halt on enforcement action by local authorities where landlords are unable to fulfil certain non-essential obligations because of the health risk posed to them, tenants and contractors.
In addition to this, guidance published by MHCLG for local authorities states that: “Where local authorities are in the process of introducing non-mandatory licensing schemes, but these are not yet in force, they should consider pausing these at an appropriate point, in line with the advice on proactive and reactive work.”
- The RLA has plenty of guidance on coronavirus for landlords online, which is updated regularly to reflect the current government guidance. Click here to access this.