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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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