The RLA has voiced its opposition to an additional licensing scheme to cover the whole of Luton.
The scheme, which would affect houses in multiple occupancy (HMOs), has been branded “bureaucratic” and “totally disproportionate” by the RLA, in their official response to Luton Borough Council’s consultation.
The RLA stated it had “significant concerns” about the proposals, with the following main criticisms:
- The decision to implement a licensing scheme is predetermined, making the consultation a charade.
- The consultation fails to address the key precondition laid down in the Housing Act 2004; namely, failing to link perceived problems with HMOs that are not subject to a mandatory licence.
- Key elements of the proposal itself are lacking in detail and fail to cover important issues; e.g. the costings of the scheme, and the number of staff required to administer it.
- The consultation fails to address all of the statutory criteria.
- There is no relevant evidence put forward to support the proposals; with the statistics quoted in the document being “irrelevant”, “exaggerated and not supporting the claims which are made” by Luton Council.
- There is not a “scintilla” of evidence of any problems in large parts of the Borough.
- The proposal does “not contain any measurable aims or objectives”, or a “clear exit strategy” once the licensing scheme lapses in five years’ time. Instead, the only exit strategy apparent is the Council’s assertion that the licensing scheme is “renewable”.
- The consultation document contains “a large number of inaccuracies and inadequacies”, which are outlined in a 34-point critique by the RLA.
In addition to these criticisms, the RLA has submitted two Freedom of Information requests to Luton; requesting information about crime directly linked to HMOs, the number of HMO landlord prosecutions, and the costings of the proposed scheme.
In the conclusion, the RLA wrote, “The fact that the proposal is to extend the scheme to the whole of the Borough is of particular concern. The level of problems referred to do not in any way, in our view, justify the imposition of additional HMO licensing. The resulting bureaucratic procedures and costs would be totally dis-proportionate to the kind of issues referred to in the consultation.
“We, therefore, ask the council to reconsider its proposal, and we are happy to work with them to consider alternative proposals. In the meantime, we look forward to receiving responses to the two FOI requests.”