Campaigns Local Government North West Region

Success! Government rejects licensing in Stoke

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

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’.

Consultation

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”.

Learn more

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.

2 Comments

  • Hi Victoria,

    That is good news, however, in the last paragraph under ‘consultation’ is says ‘ This week the licensing scheme plan was rejected by the Government, on the grounds that it ‘did meet the statutory criteria’. Should that read ‘…..did NOT meet statutory criteria’?

    Also, as the RLA is opposing several selective licensing schemes what is the organisation’s view of the proposed renewal of Liverpool City Council’s city wide scheme from March next year? Of course, the RLA is a co-regulator of the current scheme.

  • Victoria,

    I received an email from the Ministry on the 2nd August that read ‘ I can confirm that following full review as set out in my colleagues email of 25th April 2019 , Stoke-on-Trent’s application was not approved’.

    On 8th August the local paper reported ‘it did not meet the’ “statutory criteria”.

    Your article of 12th August states ‘ After careful consideration, Stoke-on-Trent’s recent application was not confirmed. The department did not agree that the statutory criteria set out in section 80(9) of the Housing Act had been fully met. The decision cannot be appealed, but the local authority can reapply’.
    Is this a written statement from the Ministry direct to the RLA ???

    Section 80 (9) of the Housing Act states : Before a designation the local housing authority must –

    A) take reasonable steps to consult persons who are likely to be affected by the designation; and

    B) consider any representations made in accordance with the consultation and not withdrawn.

    Clearly if the authority failed to meet 80(9)(A) then the consultation was flawed and should recommence before a further application is made.
    I would be grateful of any clarification on the meaning of 80(9) (B) .

    When Business Case’s for Selective Licensing are initially compiled it is sometimes difficult to understand the criteria that any particular authority is intending to apply.
    In the case of Stoke , whilst ASB was thrown into the mix, (and the RLA responded to it) , it was ‘poor housing conditions’ that was listed in the Cabinet report that subsequently received approval.
    The authorities own Scrutiny committee twice recommended deferring the proposals but Cabinet advised that they had the necessary evidence of ‘poor housing conditions’ and were intending to proceed regardless.

    To evidence this, the authority had commissioned an independent stock condition survey across the city.
    This identified a large amount of category 1 defects outside the proposed 14 areas but the authority then confirmed they did not have the resources to have them corrected !
    One of the fourteen proposed areas comprised 20% of the total proposals but was not surveyed !
    Another area of a further 20% was included due to student properties being empty outside term and/or being of shared accommodation something partly addressed by the new HMO definition.

    60% of cat 1 defects within the 14 proposed areas were confined to 3 areas making a nonsense of including the remaining 11 areas and which only appear to have been included to make up the 19% of properties the authority had mistakenly calculated, trying to avoid the need for Secretary of State approval on schemes of 20% or more.

    Are the RLA able to assist further – the local landlords association have comprehensive details of streets that were not fully consulted and there are many ?

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