The RLA has submitted its response to another selective licensing scheme proposal, this time in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
The RLA is against selective licensing in most instances and the reasoning behind the Waltham Forest proposals were deemed unsatisfactory in the eyes of the Association. Waltham Forest Council argue that the scheme should be brought in to tackle anti-social behaviour (ASB) and improve housing and managing standards within the private rented sector (PRS).
However, as a House of Commons library paper explains, private landlords are not liable for their tenants’ behaviour; and the RLA finds it difficult to support measures that do not adequately support landlords to eradicate anti-social behaviour in their properties where it exists. Furthermore, Waltham Forest’s attempts to link anti-social behaviour with private rented sector was tenuous in the extreme, and simply acknowledged the council’s failure to tackle anti-social behaviour across the entire borough.
Many similarities arise within the Waltham Forest consultation that we have seen before in places such as Burnley, where the council will charge hundreds of pounds to private landlords for the ability to operate their accommodation on a five-year basis. However, Waltham Forest Council stated that any applicants that are “…landlords with previous management contraventions or are of concern” will only be eligible for a one year licence, but at the full costing.
The RLA is against this and refers to the case of Hemming (t/a Simply Pleasure) Limited v Westminster City Council court of Appeal case and the European Service Directive (ESD). The case mandates it is not permissible for a council to make a profit on costs of licences. This means that a council can only charge the actual administrative cost of processing licence applications.
Other concerns include:
- With the high level of licence fees, costs could be passed down onto the tenants.
- We believe that whilst the vast majority of good landlords will register, a small, but significant, number of criminal landlords will still operate under the radar without being licensed – proof that the scheme has failed both the majority of good landlords and tenants as well.
In the meantime, the RLA urges members and its wider audience to be vigilant of local councils and authorities trying to put through schemes that could potentially impact your operations.
The Association will do its best to provide support and guidance where appropriate. Contact RLA Campaigns today if you are aware of proposals that we should be monitoring.