The RLA has written to Scarborough Borough Council about its proposals to introduce Selective Licensing in parts of the town, warning that some of the plans are ‘unlawful’.
The council is planning on introducing selective licensing in parts of the Castle and Central wards of Scarborough, under Section 80 of the Housing Act 2004. This means that landlords in these areas must obtain a licence if they wish to rent out these properties lawfully. The proposed standard licence fee is £550.
Selective licensing is already in place in parts of Castle and North Bay Wards of Scarborough, and has been since 1st July 2017.
‘Alienate lawful landlords and pass cost on to tenants’
In the RLA’s full consultation response, which you can read here, the RLA is warning that the proposal to introduce a standard licensing fee of £550 will result in some landlords being forced to increase rents to be able to afford a licence, passing the costs on to tenants.
While the RLA would welcome discounted fees should the scheme go ahead, the RLA is concerned that proposals by the council to introduce a late application fee and incomplete fee, as part of the fee structure. However, fees are only chargeable in respect to the application itself and not ancillary matters. While the RLA understands the need of local authorities to use their resources efficiently, this does not extend to charging fees that are not lawfully permitted.
The consultation response also details some of the RLA’s oppositions to selective licensing in general, including that good, law abiding landlords will have to pay a lot of money for a licence, while criminal landlords will not pay for a licence and will continue to operate ‘below the radar’.
‘Unlawful and legally incorrect conditions’
One of the statements in the condition on electrical safety, which states that there is a mandatory condition for electrical appliances to be tested, is legally incorrect, and the RLA has stated this in the response to the consultation, adding that it is simply required for appliances to be safe, and that a discretionary/additional condition requiring PAT testing annually would be considered illegal.
‘Excessive’ monthly inspections
Also as part of the conditions, Scarborough Council is proposing to carry out monthly and quarterly inspections of HMO and proposed selective licensed properties-something which the RLA believes to be ‘excessive’, and has called for this condition to be removed on the basis that it has the potential to go as far as breaching a tenants’ ‘Quiet Enjoyment’, something that they are entitled to under common law.
As an alternative to Selective Licensing, the RLA is calling for the Council to instead make use of the enforcement powers that are already granted to them under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, such as civil penalties and rent repayment orders.
Have your say on this consultation
Are you a landlord who will be affected by this Selective Licensing scheme? If so, there’s still time to have your say. You can reply to the consultation on the proposals on Scarborough Borough Council’s website here. The consultation closes on 3rd September 2018.
- Selective licensing is a discretionary licensing scheme, which requires all landlords operating within a designated area to license any privately rented property within that area. You can learn more about Selective Licensing by checking out our guide.
- Know about any other ongoing selective licensing schemes? The RLA aims to respond to local consultations on licensing. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Licensing is one of the topics that will be on the agenda at our Future Renting conference in London this September. Hear from the head of London Property Licensing, Richard Tacagni as he discusses what you need to know about licensing.