Plans to introduce a large property licensing scheme in Stoke have been rejected by the Government.
Stoke on Trent Council had proposed to introduce a selective licensing scheme to cover 154 streets across 14 areas in the city.
The Council proposed the scheme in order to ‘drive up housing standards in the private rented sector’ and ‘cut anti-social behaviour’.
A consultation on the plans was launched by the council last year, which the RLA responded to. In December, the Council’s cabinet approved the scheme.
However, because the proposed scheme was particularly large, in order to get the go ahead it also needed approval from the Secretary of State.
This is because if a local authority intends to designate more than 20% of the geographic area or more than 20% of the privately rented properties in their area, then approval is needed from MHCLG.
This week the licensing scheme plan was rejected by the Government, on the grounds that it ‘did not meet the statutory criteria’.
RLA’s response to this consultation
During the consultation process, which ran for several weeks last year, the RLA made a formal response. In our response, which you can read here, we raised several concerns with the plans. This included that:
- Selective licensing schemes do little but alienate lawful landlords by burdening them with additional costs, while criminal operators continue to ignore regulations and avoid these additional costs. The proposed standard licensing fee of £523, even with the discounts, is an unnecessary financial burden to put on landlords.
- There is little evidence to show that licensing schemes improve housing standards
- The Council already has the necessary tools to tackle poor housing management and conditions in the private rented sector, for example the powers granted to them under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
What happens now?
A spokesperson at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:
“After careful consideration, Stoke-on-Trent’s recent application for a selective licensing designation was not confirmed. The department did not agree that the statutory criteria set out in section 80(9) of the Housing Act 2004 had been fully met. The decision cannot be appealed, but the local authority can reapply”.