Landlords may see licensing scheme halted

30/4/13- Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142
30/4/13- Hastings Town Hall ENGSUS00120130430155142

Hastings landlords may soon claim victory over the council’s proposed Selective Licensing Scheme (SLS) after it was announced that local authorities will need to seek approval from the Secretary of State for any scheme that covers more than 20 per cent of their geographical area.

In a letter sent to local authority leaders dated March 11, 2015, from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Brandon Lewis MP, said the blanket approach to licensing, adopted by some local authorities, has major drawbacks.

The Minister said in his letter that the scheme impacts on all landlords and places additional burdens on ‘reputable landlords who are already fully compliant with their obligations’ thereby creating additional unnecessary costs which could be passed on to tenants via higher rents.

Mr Lewis added: “The vast majority of landlords provide a good service and the Government does not believe it is right to impose unnecessary additional costs on them or their tenants.

“Such an approach is disproportionate and unfairly penalises good landlords. With effect from April 1, local authorities will have to seek confirmation from the Secretary of State for any SLS, which would cover more than the 20 per cent of their geographical area or would affect more than 20 per cent of privately rented homes in the local authority area.

“This approach would help ensure that local authorities focus their activity on areas with the worst problems while helping to ensure that they do not adversely impact on good landlords.”

All SLS applications will now be considered on a case by case basis.

Mr Lewis also stated that alongside the change to the General Approval, regulations have been laid in Parliament that will expand the criteria for selective licensing.

Hastings Borough Council (HBC) proposes to introduce the Selective Licensing Scheme (SLS) in 10 wards - with the final decision being made on Monday, March 30.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) chief executive officer, Richard Lambert said the NLA has argued for many years that councils have been abusing their power to push through blanket licensing schemes and they are delighted the Government has listened to their case.

He added: “At present the driving force behind licensing landlords seems to be the political will of a given local council, regardless of the evidence.

“Many local councils won’t like this decision one bit because until now they’ve been their own judges.

“Landlords are fed up with being unfairly targeted and made responsible for problems such as anti-social behaviour when in reality they have little effective control over the issue, except by eviction.

“Hopefully councils who are serious about tackling poor property standards and anti-social behaviour will look to extensive existing legal powers to combat the issues.”