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Agency condemns city licensing scheme as "simply a landlord tax"

One the leading letting agencies in Brighton has sharply criticised a proposal by the local council to introduce a selective licensing scheme throughout the entire city, warning that the result will inevitably mean higher rents for tenants.

Letting agency Brand Vaughan says a 28-page draft document was published earlier this week. Officially it forms a proposal still under consideration by the council but Brand Vaughan has told Letting Agent Today that the scale and tone of the document suggests “they are invested in the concept from the outset.”

Andrew Gunner, listings manager at the agency, says his firm of course supports raising the standards of rental properties and wants landlords and agents to understand and meet their responsibilities.

“However, landlords have already been subject to additional licensing in Brighton and Hove, which went from an initial five wards in 2012 to a further seven added in 2015” he says. 

“The vast majority of private rental sector properties in Brighton and Hove are well presented and properly managed by landlords and letting agents. A blanket selective licensing scheme serves to impact all landlords and their tenants, for the actions (or lack of) by a minority” Gunner adds.

He warns that with tax changes and rising costs for landlords as a result of national legislation, there are two likely results if local licensing imposes additional costs. 

“We expect many landlords will either exit the market and sell up, reducing the number of properties available in a very competitive market; or have no choice but to increase rents further to cover costs” warns Gunner.

“I would take the view therefore, that this scheme is quite simply a landlord tax proposed by a cash strapped council to generate revenue and reduce the deficit” he says.

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    The proposal is not for a selective licensing scheme covering the whole city. On November 16th, a committee decision was made to consult on extending additional HMO licensing across the whole city, and introducing selective licensing in 12 wards. Consultation will start in the New Year.

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