Local Government North West

Manchester Approves Its Second Selective Licensing Scheme

India Cocking
Written by India Cocking

To say Manchester City Council is fond of Selective Licensing would be an understatement. Perhaps following in the footsteps of neighbour Liverpool with their city wide licensing, Manchester over the last year have proposed three Selective Licensing Schemes.

The first scheme in Crumpsall was approved in 2016, after this a scheme was announced another consultation was started for the wards of Moss Side and Rusholme. A third consultation was announced in May of this year for Moston and Old Moat.

We are still awaiting the results of the Moston and Old Moat consultation, however this week Manchester confirmed that the Rusholme and Moss Side scheme will go ahead. The scheme will come into force on 8th January 2018 and will have effect until 7th January 2023. We will alert our members when an announcement is made regarding the remaining consultation.

Selective Licensing applies to all private rented sector houses that are not licensed under HMO licensing, this includes non licensable HMOs. An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour that local authorities attribute to private sector landlords failing to take action to combat against unruly tenants. A designation can last up to five years.

As part of the licence, the holders of the licence will be required to comply with licensing conditions, some of which are mandatorily imposed by the Housing Act, and local licensing conditions from the council itself.

The official designation of this scheme can be read here. If you are unsure whether this scheme will affect you, please contact Manchester City Council directly, failure to obtain a licence when one is required is an offence which is liable for conviction and an unlimited fine.

The licence fee is £650 for the first property and £550 for any others.

For Moss Side and Rusholme, licences will be discounted to £400 for landlords who apply by Sunday 7 January 2018. Each licence will last for the full duration of the designation, which is five years.

Manchester, by law, held a 10 week consultation which the RLA made an official response to, opposing the introduction of this scheme. In Manchester’s consultation results they announced that 79 landlords and agents responded to the survey, of which 71 identified as landlords, with 86% currently owning a privately rented property. 10% of the responses were from letting agents and estate agents, who manage more than 45 properties between them. The independent landlords own more than 186 private properties for rent, with 97% of these owning 3 or less properties.

19% of respondents reported problems in the last few years, with 60% highlighting antisocial behaviour. 33% also reported problems with rent arrears.

When respondents were asked whether they agreed with the area chosen 74% disagreed (with 52% strongly disagreeing), 9% agreed and 17% neither agreed/disagreed nor did not know. None of the estate or letting agents were in favour of the area chosen.

Some of the comments were opposed to the proposals for licensing, with over
50 comments falling under the following;
– The high cost of licensing will be indirectly passed onto tenants through
rent increases
– Licensing is only being introduced to raise revenue for the council
– The council should be able to deal with rogue landlords without the
need of new licensing
– Unfairly passes the cost of rogue landlords onto good landlords

Other issues raised as a negative response to licensing included;
– Local areas with issues (fly tipping, crime etc) have not been
addressed successfully so many respondents listed reservations for
this scheme
– Previous licensing by MCC deemed unsuccessful
– Rogue landlords won’t be deterred by a new license
– Private tenants or landlords are not the cause of the problem
– Many requirements for licensing already obtained by landlords such as
– Negative impact on the area making it less attractive for future buy-to-let
– Area is inappropriate

Some of the RLA’s objections included; The bureaucratic nature of this scheme means that the focus becomes issuing and processing the applications rather than directing their limited resources to effective enforcement.

The council made replying effectively to this consultation difficult by not supplying the appropriate amount of information on the proposed scheme, especially in regards to evidence of need or the proposed standards.

They supplied no details on the proposed standards, fees, or decision making behind this particular scheme, that would differ to their past consultations, they did not effectively make the case that Rusholme and Moss Side, specifically, need this licensing.

It unfortunately appears that the City Council is going through the motions giving generic blanket evidence, rather than making cases for each individual area, doing nothing to correct the ‘ineffectiveness’ of the national selective licensing standards.

Our full response can be read here.

About the author

India Cocking

India Cocking

India is the Local Government Officer for the RLA. Having completed her degree in International Politics at Aberystwyth University, India is currently working on updating and maintaining the Local Authority Network. This is of importance as it strengthens communication and understanding between landlords, local authorities, and the RLA. India is working towards gathering concise and clear data from all 435 local authorities on their licencing, fees, news, events and contact details.

Before joining the RLA India worked at Martin and Co Lettings Agent in her home town of Derby, the Welsh Assembly, and her local MP, alongside helping her parents run the family buy-to-let business.

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