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Property Hawk

Creeping landlord licensing

Creeping landlord licensing is on its’ way affecting many landlords.  A perfect example is the proposed landlord licensing system in Nottingham.

Property Hawk has been a varacious campaigner against a mandatory landlord licence.

Thankfully this scheme was dropped when the coalition got to power.  However, we are now faced with the creep of licensing applied to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

Most landlords would not consider their small flat to come into this category.  For instance, I have 2 flats in a converted house, housing 2 sets of tenants.  Surely not a HMO?  Well under the Housing Act 2004 it could be classed as an HMO.  This is because whilst it is self-contained, it probably doesn’t meet the regs set out in the 1991 Building Regulations because it was originally done in the 60s.  So my 2 one bed flats with 3 people in them by some strange admin quirk becomes a House in Multiple Occupation and potentially costing me almost a grand a piece to licence for 5 years.


Luckily for me my flats fall out of the zoned area affected and are therefore currently excluded. But for how long?  Now this licensing scheme highlights two flaws in the current licensing arrangement.



1. What is the licence for?

The justification for the large landlord licence fee of £980 per property is that it will help fund the £950,000 overheads of the new department that will need to be created to monitor the licensing.  Now here’s the joke.  Good honest landlords will be run ragged complying to petty needless bits of legislation in order to obtain a piece of paper that enables them to be doing what they have been doing successfully and productively for years. 

Meanwhile, we have a whole new tier of bureaucracy of Managers, PAs, Officers, Assistants all with generous holidays and pension packages doing not a great deal other than hassling law abiding landlords.  Meanwhile the criminal and exploitative landlords avoid detection and fly under the radar as the bureaucrats go after the easy blood of regulating the ‘nice’ landlords.  Let’s face it they don’t get paid to deal with ‘gangsters’ and unsavoury characters – well actually they do ….but they don’t like it.  The results will be, nothing changes!


2. The variation in licensing costs


What I haven’t got my head around is why the costs of obtaining a license in one local authority is a few hundred, then in others, it’s thousands.  I’d be interested in getting other landlords views on how much they are paying. 

Surely if a landlord gets a licence to allow them to carrying on letting THEIR property in one part of the country they should not have to pay significantly more for the same document in another part of the country. 

Just like business rates, I think that they should be set centrally.  If one council can’t make it pay then they should look at their cost structures.  Allowing councils to set their own prices is no different to a allowing a corporate monopoly being allowed to draw up their own pricing structure.


Creeping landlord licensing

This whole debate over landlord licensing for HMO properties smacks of the slow creep, of the inevitable licensing of landlords, through the back door.  The arguments we put forward against the universal landlord licence still apply.


Licensing will have NO impact on improving standards. An expanded, more open and competitive private rental sector where the bad landlords go to the wall just might!

Please leave your comments.

 

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Comments (15)

LLL
Surely someone with a legal brain can find a way of using the Human rights act to show this idea is an infringement of our rights to earn a living.
#1 - Kevin - 09/13/2013 - 09:34
Front Door Legislation
Forget the Back Door variety! Sheffield applied the Licensing option across the whole of the city with the single exception of the area where rogue landlords thrive and prosper and the majority of our immigrant population live. The legislation is so poor that, as you point out in your article, your property may/may not constitute an HMO.
To leave this to petty officials with a vested interest in muddying the waters in order to maintain their position in clearing them is utterly pointless and irresponsible for a government that, in theory, supports the right and proper use of 'enterprise'. How else are they to solve the current housing problem if they dissuade good landlords from supplying that pressing need?
#2 - Bill - 09/13/2013 - 09:41
Local Authority Licensing
I read your article and thought absolutely spot on. My properties are in Wales where the Welsh Assembly government are actively promoting legislation to licence all landlords and letting agents in the next year or two. It was introduced in Scotland and it cost the council tax payers a lot of money, which is why England did not go ahead nationally. Unfortunately, they left the door open for individual councils in England to introduce licensing as they saw fit.

We all know that councils are not there to help local citizens, rather to increase their workforce and create employment for local civil servants. Councils are corrupt in the way they interpret legislation in order to raise revenue. Just look at the motorist with regards to draconian parking fees and fines. It is the same with HMO fees. I decided to stop renting my house in Newport, South Wales, to group tenants. Although the house did not fall under the HMO legislation as it did not have 3 floors, Newport council have special powers not seen in other areas on the Principality and it became a HMO anyway.

The UK at present is in the grip of a big push by Government and local authorities to squeeze landlords for extra cash and burden them with futher legislation. It does not stop the cowboys, but hits the law abiding landlord. Keep up the fight.
#3 - Clive Williams - 09/13/2013 - 11:52
LLL
why are the councils saying that they need to create a new department with more people when they already have people who visit properties and correspond with landlords etc they already have people who inspect properties --- officers of one sort or another ---- absolutely amazing what they are allowed to get away with --- Cyril Smith is a prime example --- if he was allowed to get away with what he was doing --- it just shows that the councils believe that they are a law unto themselves --- they have even managed to change the goal posts about what contitutes an HMO --- I have a 3 bed terraced family house --- it was rented to two unrelated by blood people -- male and female =--- seperate bedrooms --- no locks on doors --- no numbers on doors --- and the council are saying that this contitutes being an HMO and I have 6to pay the council tax --- this is bonkers ---- shortage of one bed accomadation so people end up sharing because of what was the under 25 rule is now applicable to under 35`s -- they are all on single room allowances --- unbelievable --- MAYBE ANOTHER REASON FOR CREATING NEW DEPARTMENTS IS THAT THEY ARE WORRIED ABOUT UNIVERSAL CREDIT PUTTING A LOT OF COUNCIL WORKERS OUT OF WORK BECAUSE IT WILL BE DEALT WITH BY DWP AND PROBABLY ONE GOLIATH COMPUTER ---- and if someone is on drugs or a perpetual gambler or just can`t handle money there is no system in Universal credit to make payments directly to the landlord --- however I bet that Housing Associations and Council Housing rents can be paid direct --- we are all just cannon fodder
#4 - Paul Woods - 09/13/2013 - 13:54
LLL
For the reasons given already it is obvious that LLL is a money raising/job creation scheme that will not achieve any other objective. I just cannot understand why a Connservative led government that should promote free enterprise and free markets and should oppose a major extension of beaurocracy is allowing this to happen.
#5 - Bill - 09/13/2013 - 14:02
LLL
I could not agree more with your article, and all the comments above. I tried to sign your online petition but was unable to do so. Surely there are enough Landlords out there that would be willing to sign a petition, even if all the "lanlord associations" worked together to get this idiotic scheme consigend to the rubbish bin where it surely belongs.
#6 - james lewis - 09/13/2013 - 15:00
Licensing by local authorities
Hi Guys.
Did you know that http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/vict/51-52/41/section79
states that all duties and liabilities of inhabitants of a county shall become and be duties of the council of such county......

Dont take my word for it, check the legislation then read the paragraph I wrote above again and enjoy sticking it to the councils...
#7 - Paul Griffin - 09/13/2013 - 19:15
Petition!!!
Where can I find the on line petition against this?
Also, couldn't find the page you named, Paul. Send the link again please.
#8 - GABRIELLE ALLEN - 09/13/2013 - 20:15
Blackpool has begun introducing the licensing scheme for ALL privateley owned rented property.
It has started in the south of town as a trial and is being expanded throughout the town.
A small 2 bedroom terrace which is let for £100 per week will cost in the region of £1000 for a 4 year licence.
#9 - Sybaris - 09/13/2013 - 21:07
L L L
Brighton have now extended the types of property that need HMO licences to 2 or more bedrooms which is just about anything except a 1 bedroom flat. However, this is only in the wards where there are student residences! How fair is that? I just did what all the landlords did with student properties. We put the rents up as the leases are for 12 months or less.

I bet they will extend this when they reuse how lucrative it is.
#10 - KeithF - 09/13/2013 - 22:06
Landlord License
I totaly agree, the end result will be higher rents and a poor service, which helps no one. Lets hope Cameron see's sense.
Tenants know who the good & bad landlords are and should be encouraged to expose without duress.
#11 - DJ.Sealy - 09/14/2013 - 12:58
Additional licensing and selective licensing
Milton Keynes Council are at present running a consultation to see if additional and selective licensing should be introduced. Why? Who will enforce it? They cannot use license revenue for enforcement purposes so will have to raise revenue elsewhere, burdening the tax payers even more. By their own addmission they do not know how many HMO's are in the borough, let alone how many of them are operated by bad landlords. This is being pushed forward by Councillors and not local government officers, who must do the Council's bidding, in order to tell the electorate that they are working for the hard pressed voters to bash these greedy landlords over the head and to hit them in the pocket. If this goes through, then I am out of Milton Keynes.
#12 - Les Kirkham - 09/14/2013 - 17:52
Swap Out
I had the exact scenario in 2006 when Harrow decided my flat in a converted house came under the HMO rules. What - pay all that extra in time money and hassle for nothing?? So: at the next opportunity ie at the next tenancy change I took the option to Sell up; realized a huge profit (which was thankfully protected from the taxman by previuos recorded "losses") then RE-bought into purpose built flats. You gotta stay ahead!!
#13 - KB - 09/15/2013 - 08:55
landlord licensing
Newham in london introduced landlord licensing this year also. After completing 19 pages of information to apply for the license, and paying a £500 fee, nobody even called to inspect the flat to ensure it is fit for habitation. This clearly proves the 'license' AND the whole system is a farce!
#14 - noreen - 09/26/2013 - 15:58
This is a joke for tennants too.
I want to save money and have a nice house by moving in with my girlfriend and a friend ut I have to put up with crummy student accomodation because of this law. It is an absolute joke and as far as I (and many others by the looks of things) can tell it is pointless.
#15 - R - 07/07/2014 - 18:43
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