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Landlords fight against licence fees

It appears that landlords are starting to fight back over unfair licensing charges by some local authorities for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

I’ve highlighted before the unwarranted level of some of these HMO licensing charges and the total lack of redress available to landlords over these costs.

Recent cases reign in Councils

It appears that landlords are now taking local authorities through the Courts to curb some of the excessive charges being brought to bear upon them.

The 3 cases in question are:

Hemming v Westminster City Council:

This case examined whether the Council complied with the European Services Directive 2009 and specifically Article 13 (2). The Directive is clear that it can only be used to recover costs and should not be used to make a profit or deter service providers from entering a market.

Read more here


Crompton v Oxford City Council:

In this case Oxford City Council sought to charge a fee for the variation of the HMO licence. The Residential Property Tribunal (RPT) ruled that the fee was unlawful as the power had only been granted in respect of the licence application.

Read more here

Bristol City Council v Digs (Bristol) Ltd:

This case related to whether a maisonette was a licensable HMO. As is often the case with maisonettes the entrance level was at a different level to the rest of the dwelling. A District Judge held that having regard to Article 3 of the HMO (Prescribed Description) (England) (Order) the property was not in fact an HMO and did not require a licence.

Read more here

HMO licensing fees need to be set nationally

Despite these cases and the piecemeal reigning in of a few errant local authorities on HMO licensing fees. I still believe that Local Authorities need ‘taking in hand’, and that the fees should be set nationally. A single licence fee across the country would provide clarity and also not reward authorities for inefficiency or dubious accounting practices. It would stop councils from extracting unreasonable licensing fees from landlords to help boost their coffers.

Is this the incoherent ramblings of a landlord or does this proposal make sense to anybody?

Please post your comments and thoughts below.

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