The RLA has responded to a consultation that is being run by Leeds City Council on proposals to introduce selective licensing in the areas of Beeston and Harehills.
Under proposals currently under consultation, if selective licensing comes into force in these areas, it means that landlords will be required to pay for a licence, costing £825, to rent out their property lawfully.
The RLA has raised a number of concerns about this selective licensing scheme in its formal response to the consultation, which you can read here.
What is Selective Licensing?
If a property is in a designated selective licensing area, this means that landlords are required to apply for a licence in order to rent it out lawfully. For a local authority to declare a selective licensing area, the area must be:
- An area of low housing demand and/or
- An area affected by anti-social behaviour where the private landlords have failed to take steps to control anti-social behaviour by their tenants.
The RLA’s response to introducing selective licensing in Beeston and Harehills
You can read some of our main concerns with the proposed selective licensing scheme below.
‘Discounts are not big enough’
One of the main concerns that the RLA has with the selective licensing proposals is that it believes the cost of a licence is too excessive, even when taking discounts into consideration.
While the RLA recognize Leeds Council’s Ingrowth Inclusive Strategy 2018-2023 wants to improve the quality of private sector housing, we believe that expecting lawful landlords to pay for expensive licences will ‘alienate lawful landlords’ because it burdens them with additional costs.
Good landlords will apply for licences and, likely, pass the cost on to tenants in the form of increased rents, doing nothing to address affordability, while the worst landlords – the criminal operators will continue to operate without a licence, below the radar.
Failure to justify why scheme is necessary
In the response, we highlight why the council has failed in its documents to prove sufficiently that private rented sector houses are the main perpetrators of anti-social behaviour and crime. The council has very similar issues in predominantly council/social housing estates with their highly regulated housing management and property standards and this is clearly not solely a landlord issue.
What does the RLA suggest as an alternative to introducing selective licensing in these areas of Leeds?
Leeds City Council has access to the Controlling Migration Fund, which allows local authorities to tackle local service pressures associated with any recently increased migration, which includes tackling rogue landlords and driving up standards.
We believe that Leeds City Council, and other councils who are consulting on introducing selective licensing, should fully use the enforcement powers already granted to them by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, ranging from civil penalties, rent repayment orders and banning orders, rather than rely on Licensing Schemes to regulate landlords in addition to these powers.
The response also discusses the option of the Council using ‘Tenure Intelligence (Ti) which combines artificial intelligence and housing data, instead of introducing selective licensing.
Engagement with landlords
Earlier this month, we attended a Leeds landlord Forum meeting where we discussed with landlords and a representative from the Council the proposed scheme in more detail.
There are other factors we have mentioned in our response in our response as to why we are opposed to the selective licensing proposals, including that the Council should consider the results of the Government’s Selective Licensing review (due to be published in Spring) before going ahead with this.
Our response also mentions our concerns that this new scheme would put pressure on non-selective licensing areas and highlights the option of co-regulation should the scheme be approved.
Learn more about the scheme and have your say.
The consultation closes on Wednesday 31st October. You can respond to the consultation on the Leeds City Council website here.
Next month, the Leeds Landlords Conference will take place in the City. Find out more here.