One of the most pro-licensing local authorities in the country has extended its own scheme to include the entire centre of Bristol - but it’s now seeing a backlash.
The city council’s cabinet has agreed to expand the licensing scheme to include Houses in Multiple Occupation in 12 wards. The council says these 12 have been identified as areas with high concentrations of HMOs and where housing and management standards are likely to be poor compared with the city as a whole.
The wards will now be declared as areas where privately rented HMOs will require a licence under Part 2 of the Housing Act 2004.
The Labour-led council has previously had licensing in a much smaller area and insists that this has “made a significant difference to the living conditions of tenants in these neighbourhoods.”
It says that so far more than 4,400 licences have been issued and a statement from the council says: “The introduction of licensing schemes helps improve property conditions, as officers will be able to inspect every private rented property to check conditions and take action where standards are not met.”
However, it has emerged that the likely fee for the five year licence would be £1,200 - believed to be one of the most expensive in the UK - and involves a 38-point ‘test’ which has to be passed by applicants.
Now the BBC reports that the chair of the Association of Local Landlords in Wessex, Rob Crawford, says: "We are aware there are landlords who are not as good as others and do need some help and education in providing the appropriate standard of accommodation. But why should good landlords be charged to address those issues from rogue landlords?"
He also told the BBC that there was already a reporting system in place for tenants to report rogue landlords and that his group would be challenging the licence fee cost.
Bristol has seen aggressively anti-landlord and anti-letting agent activities in recent times.
In October last year the Lets Rent lettings agency refused to sign a pledge from a pro-tenant protest group and as a result, his agency office was the scene of a demonstration on a Saturday; also last year a former Bristol councillor said letting agents should be responsible for ensuring student tenants know how to organise their bins in a tidy manner; and for the past three years the Bristol branch of the campaign group ACORN has held protests outside agents’ offices in the city.