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Agents and landlords lose key licensing court case

A group of letting agents, landlords and investors has failed in its bid to force a high profile council to reconsider its scheme for licensing private rental properties.

The Croydon Property Forum, a group of property professionals in the Croydon area, wanted to overturn the local council proposal to introduce compulsory licensing of landlords, who from October must now pay £750 per property every five years. 

The court hearing to consider the request for a judicial review took place on August 4 but the decision was made public only yesterday. 

Croydon Property Forum Ltd is a not for profit company that has been formed, in its own words, “to protect the interests of Croydon landlords and to protect the identities of its members who are challenging Croydon Council over its pending borough wide landlord licensing scheme which in our opinion is unjust to private landlords and tenants, and damaging to the interests of the London Borough of Croydon.” 

However, following the decision to refuse judicial review, it has been described by Croydon council leader Tony Newman as “developers and landlords who have sought to exploit the vulnerable and attack Croydon’s Labour council.”

Under the scheme, any landlord without a licence faces a fine of up to £20,000. Those who breach the terms of their licence can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.

Landlords who register for a licence before the scheme's introduction on October 1 will be charged £350, while those who apply later will pay £750. Over 1,000 landlords have so far registered claims the council. 

We have extensively reported on Enfield’s Labour-led council’s recent abandonment of a landlord licensing scheme following a successful judicial review by just one landlord.

  • Stephanos Constantinou

    Because you lost a battle does not mean that you lost the war !! The scheme for licensing private rental properties its unfair.. !!

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    I agree Stephanos, it is not only unfair, it is outrageous that good landlords are being financially punished because of a small number of poor ones. I have become so incensed with this that I am selling my properties within Croydon and returning them to the private ownership market. I shall buy more properties in areas outside Croydon. If more people did this then they would see pretty quickly that the much needed private rented housing stock is dwindling directly because of their actions.

  • Rob  Davies

    Hmm, and why is the demand so high in the PRS at the moment? Is it because buy-to-let landlords, like your good self, get generous tax breaks and easier to acquire mortgages that makes it easier for them to buy properties, while young people and first-time buyers are squeezed out of the market?

    I can't see the issue with licensing in the PRS if it drives up standards. Which, no matter how much you landlords want to bury your heads in the sand, is an issue. We read about it all the time. There are whole programmes on TV about it. Unrepresentative and blown out of proportion, yes, but there is a huge problem with rogue landlords and that problem is only growing.

    All this good/bad landlords stuff doesn't really hold up to scrutiny, either. It's the same with agents. As I've seen during my short time in the industry, there are excellent agents, there are good agents, there are average agents, there are bad agents, and there are ones who should never have been given the job in the first place. Same with landlords. It's not simply a straightforward divide between good and bad - to stop as many rogue landlords as possible from slipping through the net, we need to put barriers in their way. Licensing is one way of doing that, and it's really not that costly, is it? You know, not with the rental yields you can achieve, particularly in London.

    I just don't get this poor me attitude from landlords. No-one is asking you to be a landlord, it's your own persona choice. The idea that you're just going to make a load of money without any checks, regulation or legislation is nonsense. We expect most professions to pass a fit and proper person test - this is something estate agency doesn't do, to its shame - before they become employed. If landlords insist on calling themselves professionals and businesses, start acting like it. Pubs are licensed, aren't they? Cabs. Restaurants. Why should landlords be any different?

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    This sort of 'council run' scheme will only penalise those who stay within the law already.
    Crooks will ignore it, as with so much else.
    I predict that the way things are going within 5 years the PRS will shrink by a considerable amount.

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    I detect a whiff of hysteria and overreaction here. Agents, whether letting or selling don't like regulation or licensing, landlords don't like licensing or regulation, if you are above board then you have nothing to worry about. The maximum cost will be £750 over 5 years before tax relief, big deal.
    I consider the biggest problem to be that what regulations the business has, is not policed adequately and enforced with stringent penalties.

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