Campaigns Local Government

RLA clamps down on councils’ unlawful licence fees

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

Council plans to unlawfully charge landlords for licence variations and exemptions notices are being opposed by the RLA.

The association has written to two councils in England expressing its concern over the proposals.

The RLA submitted a letter to Greenwich Council over a plans to charge £200 to vary a licence, outlined on its website, a move it considers unlawful.

The Housing Act 2004 allows for fees to be charged for only one action in relation to HMO or Selective Licensing, which is the application itself.

This was reinforced in a court case between Crompton v Oxford City Council, which made it clear that the only charging point for the HMO or Selective Licensing was at the point of license application.

The RLA says that while it appreciates the need of local authorities to use their resources ‘efficiently’ this does not extend to charging fees that are not lawfully permitted.

The RLA is awaiting confirmation from Greenwich Council that this proposed fee will not, in fact, be charged.

Charges for temporary exemption notices

The RLA has also written a letter to Stoke on Trent Council on a similar issue, in which, according to the council’s website, the authority proposes to charge a fee for granting temporary exemption notices (TENs).

A temporary exemption notice provides an exemption from the need to license a property for a temporary period of up to three months.

They allow landlords a short period of exemption from requiring a licence, for example in cases where a landlord has unexpectedly found that their property needs a licence, so they can put the situation right.

In the RLA’s letter to Stoke on Trent Council, it says that the RLA believes charging this fee is unlawful. Also, the number of TEN applications are very small, and the level of processing required for them is minimal.

The RLA is also awaiting a response that this proposed fee will not, in fact be charged.

Harrow Council licensing plan

The RLA has also written to Harrow Council to express its concern over its recent designation of the wards of Roxeth and Roxbourne for selective licensing.

The RLA is concerned about the short period of time for the designation, given that it is only for two years, despite the maximum length of a designation being five years.

Also, the RLA is concerned that the public notice refers to a map at ‘[Annex A’], however no such map is available. It would be helpful for the council to provide the designation in full.

About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.


  • I have just received notification from Gateshead Council for Selective Licensing, in which I have one property.

    Despite the gargantuan application form of 26 pages to fill, the part that made my blood boil was the fees. This has an eye-watering escalation should one’s application be progressively late. Surely these are unjustified and unfair. I have formed the impression that authorities, both local and governmental see the PRS as a cash-cow second only to the motorist.

  • I would like to raise concern over the Selective Licensing scheme run by Peterborough City Council. The scheme came into force in December 2016. In December of this year I received an email about ‘amendments’ to the scheme which constituted an increase in the Licence fee from £600 to £900 and removed the reduced fee to Landlords who have their property managed by a registered Agent and members of recognised organisations like the RLA. Where is the incentive to be a responsible Landlord? This has nothing to do with protecting Tenants and everything to do with making money for the Council. Shame on Peterborough City Council.

  • Hi,

    I am currently living and renting a property in Harrow borough. I have recently come across the selective licensing scheme. I think its ridiculous how 2 small areas (Roxbourne and Wealdstone) of the borough have been targeted with licensing fee of £550, and other parts where there is a need have not been selected. The reasoning behind this is very unclear and they cannot explain upfront.

    This is again a way of making money and utilising the additional income. The reasons for this fee is to reduce rubbish, drug and alcohol crime, sub-letting, overcrowing, etc… What an excuse, this is happening across all the boroughs across Harrow and London. Enforcing this charge will not address this problem but will encourage owners to be on guard and protect how much information is disclosed to the council. There are many owners who are renting illegally, and not providing clean and hygienic facilities yet charging extortionate rents.

    Another example of how the council is failing to improve the services of its local people.

    Annoyed resident,

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