2017 has felt like a very busy year for local authorities and licensing.
Perhaps it is because this was the year I was appointed the RLA’s first Local Government Officer? Or- maybe it is was the almost 30 local consultations I responded to?
And while we are yet to finish our advent calendars, local authorities are already working well into next year. So, unwrap those 2018 diaries, as there are already important dates to add in.
Manchester City Council – 8/1/18
In the year Manchester welcomed new Mayor Andy Burnham the council has been busy with landlord activity of its own.
While Burnham has pledged a Manchester-wide ‘Good Landlord’ scheme, compulsory purchase orders, and the possible introduction of a ‘rent to own’ scheme, Manchester City Council has held three selective licensing scheme consultations, in the areas of; Cumpsall, Moss Side, Rusholme, Moston and Old Moat. The second approved scheme, in Rusholme and Moss Side, comes into force on 8th January 2018.
Walsall Council Consultation – 8/1/18
Ideally located for Birmingham and Wolverhampton commuters and home to students from the University of Wolverhampton, Walsall’s Selective Licensing consultation comes to an end on the 8th January.
Covering the wards of Willenhall, Walsall Town Centre, and adjoining areas, the proposed licensing fees range from £614 to £1,790. You can send your responses directly to the council via email and letter or fill out their online questionnaire.
Doncaster Borough Council – 7/2/18
In November Doncaster Council received approval to designate the area of Edlington, defined by Steveley Street in the north, Auburn Road and the allotment gardens in the west, Carr Road to the South and along Broomhouse Lane to North Street/Square to the east.
Applications are required from 7th February 2018. The five year licence purchased direct from the Council will cost £515, payable with the licence application. The five year licence through the Home Safe scheme has an £80 initial charge and then an agreed monthly payment to be a member.
Sheffield City Council Consultation – 23/2/18
Sheffield City Council has previously introduced a Selective Licensing scheme in the area of Page Hall, which will come to an end in April 2019. This consultation, which covers the areas of London Road, Abberydale Road, and Chesterfield Road which covers the southwards from Sheffield centre and then out all the way south west, closes on the 23rd February
The council is proposing this licensing scheme as they “have concerns about the condition of the private rented properties in the area, particularly those above shops”, they list their main areas for concern as poor fire safety, illegal conversions, multiple high risk hazards, poor management practice, and the build of waste.
Sheffield has not confirmed a fee structure but has estimated a five year licence would cost landlords around £750, if they applied straight away, and a standard fee is likely to be £1,000.
Sheffield City Council is hosting several evening events and drop in sessions for affected parties that have questions or would like to voice their concerns in person;
Open Drop ins:
19th December – Chinese Community Centre, 157-159 London Road S2 4QZ 6pm-8pm
17th January – Meersbrook Park United Reform Church, 173 Chesterfield Road S8 ORP 2pm-4pm
23rd January – Dalton Court Community Centre, S8 OYF 4pm-6pm
6th February – Heeley Institute, 147 Gleadles Road S2 3AF, 10am-12pm
14th February – Highfield Trinity Church, 11 Holland Place S2 4US 3pm-5pm
14th December – St Mary’s Church, Bramall Lane S2 4QZ 6pm-9pm
10th January – Abbeydale Picture House, 383 Abbeydale Road S7 1FS 6pm-9pm
31st January – St Pauls Church, 52 Norton Lees Lane S8 98D 6pm-9pm
21st February – Sheffield United Football Ground, Bramall Lane S2 4SU 6pm-9pm
Other ways Landlords and Lettings Agents can submit their views to the council are outlined here.
Sefton Council – 1/3/18
Sefton Council has approved a Selective Licensing scheme in parts of Bootle which comes into force of the 1st March and will last until the 28th February 2023. A list of affected streets has been published here.
A full fee for a licence is £695, applying within the first three months of licence being live drops the price to £620, and being accredited drops the price to £545. You will not be required to apply for a licence before the 1st March.
On the same date an Additional Licensing scheme will come into force in the areas of Seaforth, Waterloo, Brighton-le-Sands and Southport and will last until 28 February 2023. Full details can be read here.
The fees for this scheme is £850 for the full 5 years or £700 for an accredited landlord, and early-birds will receive a £100 discount.
Brighton and Hove City Council – 1/3/18
In November, Brighton and Hove’s Additional Licensing scheme which covered nine of the council’s wards came to an end, in March a new city wide licensing scheme takes its place.
The fees for the scheme will range from £654 for a house occupied by three tenants up to £1,177 for a house occupied by 10 tenants. All House of Multiple Occupation affected by both the Mandatory and Additional HMO licensing schemes will have to adhere to Brighton and Hove’s Standards for Licensable Houses in Multiple Occupation.
Whilst the current Additional Licensing scheme in Kingston comes to an end on the 20th December, the council has announced a new scheme based on the same criteria will come into force on the 1st March.
Any current licences with a start date on or after 1 January 2016 will be “passported” over to the new scheme and receive a further licence for a set period of three years. This will be done automatically.
The application fee for a licence is £200 per room with a £100 discount for accredited landlords.
The London Borough of Havering – 1/3/18
In October, Havering designated the wards of; Brooklands, Elm Park, Gooshays, Harold Wood, Havering Park, Heaton, Mawneys, Petits, Rainham & Wennington, Romford, South Hornchurch, and Squirrels Heath, for an Additional HMO Licensing scheme.
The designation will come into force on 1st March 2018 and shall cease to have effect on 28th February 2023. A discounted fee rate of £412.50 will be available until the 28th February 2018 and a standard rate applicable from 1st March of £550.
This month Haringey Council launched a 12 week consultation on a proposed borough-wide Additional Licensing scheme and a Selective Licensing scheme in 29 of the council’s areas. The consultation runs until the 5th March and interested parties can submit their views to the council via email or their online questionnaire.
There are also a number of meetings that you can attend in order to get your opinion heard by the council in person;
Tuesday 16th January 2018 7.30pm to 8.45pm (General Public Meeting)
Jacksons Lane – 29a Archway Road, London N6 5AA
Thursday 18th January 2018 7.00pm to 8.15pm (Tenants’ and residents’ meeting)
Northumberland Park Resource Centre – 177 Park Lane, London N17 0HJ
Tuesday 23rd January 2018 6.30pm to 7.45pm (Landlord Meeting)
Haringey Civic Centre – 265 High Rd, Wood Green, London N22 8ZW
The proposed fee structure of the schemes are; £500 for a Selective Licence and £208 per unit of accommodation for an Additional Licence, a 50% discount is being proposed for both schemes for applicants applying for the first 3 months of the scheme being live.
Wirral Council – 21/3/18
Wirral is proposing extending Selective Licensing into four new areas in Wirral, alongside changing several conditions of the licence. The four new proposed areas are; Birkendhead Central, Birkenhead West, Hamilton Square, and Seacombe St Paul’s.
Workshops have been arranged for landlords to discuss the details of the scheme and how the proposals may affect them:
Monday 15th January 2018, 10am – 12pm or 5pm – 7pm
Monday 1st February 2018, 10am – 12pm or 5pm – 7pm
If you are a landlord or agent, and would like to attend one of the workshops, please email SLconsultation@wirral.gov.uk to book a place, stating the date and time you would like to attend.
The newly proposed licensing conditions can be read here. Wirral’s consultation is live until Wednesday 21st March 2018, by completing the questionnaire you will be entered into a competition to win £100 High Street Vouchers.
Luton Borough Council – 1/4/18
From the 1st April landlords in the areas of Biscot and Dallow parts of South, Farley and High Townwill require a Selective Licence to rent out their properties.
The fees structure that Luton has proposed includes a £110 base fee then a £110 fee per bedroom, alongside a £110 discount for accredited landlords. For example, the licence fee for a 3 bedroom property with an unaccredited landlord would be £440.
Woking Borough Council – 1/4/18
From the 1st April landlords with properties in the the Canalside, Maybury, and Town Centre areas of Woking will require a licence to operate. Once the licensing scheme is in force Woking Council aims to inspect every private rented property within the selective licensing area, and where health and safety hazards are found, enforcement action will be taken to remedy these hazards.
The good news for landlords is that Woking is charging no fee on a valid application made online before the 1st April or an application made for newly acquired properties on or after the 1st April. On and after the 1st April a licence will set a non-accredited landlord back £560.
As usual our advice to landlords confused about whether a licensing scheme applies to their properties is to contact the council directly to double check, to not have a licence for a licensable property is an offence and is subject to an unlimited fine.
The RLA will make an official response to the consultations outlined here, as we do with all consultations, opposing this scheme. We urge our members to make their own response by answering the council’s questionnaire or writing them a letter outlining your views, opinions, and experiences as a landlord. All our past responses can be read here.
If plans for so many new licensing schemes seems disheartening, don’t despair, it’s not all bad news.
This year has seen some great successes when it comes to creating a better relationship between local authorities and landlords.
Here at the RLA we have launched our Local Authority Network and have entered into training partnerships with several councils.
And with Bournemouth rejecting Selective Licensing to focus on enforcement and Woking creating a £0 licence, we hope that 2018 marks a new dawn, heralding a better, more open relationship between local authorities and landlords.
From everyone here at the RLA we wish you a very Happy New Year!