Plans to introduce a large selective licensing scheme in Waltham Forest have been approved by the government this week.
The scheme, which will cover 18 out of 20 wards in the borough, will come into affect on 1st May 2020. It will run for a period of five years ending on Wednesday 30 April 2025.
It comes just a week after the government blocked a large selective licensing scheme from being renewed for another five years in Liverpool.
Watch: RLA policy manager John Stewart was interviewed on BBC Sunday Politics North West at the weekend about the government blocking Liverpool’s licensing scheme.
What is selective licensing?
Selective licensing designations mean that if a landlord has a property that is privately rented in the designated area, they are required to obtain a licence from the council in order to lawfully rent the property out.
Government approval is needed for schemes which cover more than 20% of a council area, and this week the plan put forward by Waltham Forest Council was approved.
A new additional HMO licensing scheme will also come into force in Waltham Forest on Wednesday 1 April 2020 , and will target Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) that are privately rented but which do not come within the scope of mandatory HMO licensing and where households share one or more basic amenity such as a bath or WC.
The RLA’s opposition to the plan
As with all licensing consultations, Waltham Forest ran a consultation on the proposals, which the RLA responded to.
The RLA’s response outlined why the association is opposed to the implementation of such a large selective licensing scheme, as well the proposed additional licensing scheme.
Reasons listed in our response included:
- Concerns that there are already many regulations affecting private landlords There are already more than 150 Acts of Parliament and 400 regulations affecting landlords in the private rented sector. The RLA argues that the council should make use of these existing powers, instead of introducing such a large licensing scheme
- Little evidence that licensing improves standards
- In terms of licensing schemes, the focus of staff becomes the processing of licences, and prosecutions tend to centre on whether a property has been licensed or not, rather than improving property conditions.
An ‘early-bird’ discount to those landlords who register between Friday 1 May and Friday 31 July 2020.