The RLA is concerned that a planned borough wide additional licensing scheme in the London Borough of Brent will do little to improve housing standards.
What the Council is proposing
Brent Council consulted on plans to renew an additional licensing scheme for all houses of multiple occupations across the borough.
The council is also planning on renewing the selective licensing scheme for three wards in the borough, Harlesden, Willensden Green and Wembley Central, and extending selective licensing to the wards of: Alperton, Barnhill, Brondesbury Park, Fryent, Northwick Park, Preston, Queensbury, Sudbury, Tokyngton (excluding Wembley Park) and Welsh Harpwards.
The consultation is now closed.
If the licensing scheme gets the go ahead, all landlords in these areas would be required to obtain a licence in order to lawfully rent out their property.
Brent Council say that the plan will enable the Council to ‘continue to tackle the problems of poorly managed houses, poor property conditions, anti-social behaviour and deprivation in Brent.’ However the RLA has several concerns with the proposals.
In the RLA’s official response to the consultation, which you can read here, the association points out that the Council already has the necessary tools to tackle poor housing management and conditions in Brent.
This includes civil penalties and banning orders, and the RLA believes that the Council should direct resources at identifying private rented properties and taking enforcement action, rather than introducing a licensing scheme where often the focus becomes processing applications rather than improving management standards or property conditions.
Concerns that a fee would not be lawfully permitted
The RLA is also concerned that the Council is proposing to charge a Finders Fee of £300 to a landlord, where a licensable property was found by the Council.
The RLA is concerned that charging this fee would not be lawfully permitted, because only one licence fee can be charged to a landlord per application, and fees are only chargeable in respect of a licence application itself, not ancillary matters.
Privacy concerns around a licence condition which could be a barrier to a tenancy for some tenants
One of the licensing conditions that Brent has proposed relates to a licence holder requesting information about previous unspent convictions. The RLA argues that this goes beyond the scope of information a landlord should ask a tenant because it raises concerns of privacy. A tenants unspent convictions should not be a barrier to a tenancy.
Have your say
To have your say in this important consultation and read the proposals in full, click here. This consultation will close on 25th August.
Check out the RLA’s list of current local authority licensing consultations here.