A licensing consultation which was run by Hounslow Council recently did not satisfy the requirements set out by government guidance, the RLA is warning.
Hounslow Council ran a ten week consultation on plans to extend an additional HMO licensing scheme in the borough. The consultation closed in April.
In the RLA’s response to the consultation, which you can read here, we have raised concerns that as part of the consultation process, the Council did not take reasonable steps to consult people who are likely to be affected by the designation.
This is because a link which should take respondents to the Cabinet report does not exist, and the consultation documents were not freely accessible online for respondents to read.
As such, the RLA argues that during the consultation process, Hounslow Council did not fulfill their legal requirement as set out in official Government guidance when it comes to “taking reasonable steps to consult person who are likely to be affected by the designation”.
This is a requirement that is set out in Government guidance from March 2015, under Section 80 (9) of the Act, and the RLA is now calling on Hounslow Council to relaunch the additional licensing consultation.
What Hounslow Council is proposing
Hounslow Council’s current additional licensing scheme is set to end on 31 May, and in January the council launched the consultation on plans to extend and widen the scheme.
The Council is proposing to introduce borough wide additional licensing, which would extend to all HMOs occupied by three or more people who are not all related, regardless of the number of storeys.
As part of its response to this consultation, the RLA has opposed the proposals and has raised a number of objections.
“Excessively high fees”
Hounslow Council is proposing to charge a licence fee of £1250 for a new application. The RLA is warning that this fee is excessively high, and will only lead to landlords increasing rents in order to cover the cost of the licence. All the while, criminal landlords will ignore the licensing scheme, as they do with other regulations.
The RLA is also urging the council to review the proposed fee structure, because Part A payment for a new application is substantially more than a Part B payment. The focus of staff becomes the processing and issuing of licenses and whether a property is license, instead of improving property conditions.
The RLA has also raised several other concerns with the scheme, including that one of the licence conditions could potentially breach a tenants’ right to quiet enjoyment.
In addition to this, the RLA argues that the council should fully use powers available to them under the Housing and Planning Act 2016 such as civil penalties and rent repayment orders, instead of extending the additional licensing scheme.