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Unlawful! Trade body tells another council its licensing plans are illegal

The Residential Landlords Association has told another council that its plans to introduce selective licensing in areas of its town are in part ‘unlawful’.

The RLA last month wrote to Great Yarmouth making a similar claim about its plans - now the association has written to Scarborough borough council with a similar accusation. 

The association says the council in Scarborough wants selective licensing in parts of the Castle and Central wards under Section 80 of the Housing Act 2004, with a proposed standard licence fee of £550.

The RLA says it is particularly concerned over proposals for a late application fee and an incomplete application fee, separate to the licence fee itself. 

In its consultation response to the council the association says fees “are only chargeable in respect to the application itself and not ancillary matters” and continues that “while the RLA understands the need of local authorities to use their resources efficiently, this does not extend to charging fees that are not lawfully permitted.”

The consultation response also details some of the RLA’s oppositions to selective licensing in general, including that good, law abiding landlords will have to pay a lot of money for a licence, while criminal landlords will not pay for a licence and will continue to operate ‘below the radar’.

The RLA also claims that one of the statements in the council proposals incorrectly suggests that there is a mandatory condition for electrical appliances to be tested.

This is legally incorrect, and the RLA has stated this in the response to the consultation, adding that it is simply required for appliances to be safe, and that a discretionary/additional condition requiring PAT testing annually would be considered illegal.

As an alternative to Selective Licensing, the RLA is calling for the council to instead make use of the enforcement powers that are already granted to it under the Housing and Planning Act 2016, such as civil penalties and rent repayment orders.

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