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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

London council returns to licensing five years after humiliating U-turn

Enfield wants to be the latest London council to introduce large-scale additional and selective licensing schemes which would affect most private rented properties in the borough. 

If introduced, the proposed licensing schemes would - according to a council statement - “play a major part in improving housing standards by addressing poor property conditions in private rented properties, would raise management standards in the sector, and help tackle anti social behaviour and deprivation.”

A council spokesperson says: “Licensing the private rented sector will improve housing standards, help reduce deprivation, improve tenants’ safety and quality of life, and improve the quality of our communities.

“Many landlords offer good quality, safe and well managed private rented homes, but some take advantage of residents and rent out dangerous, cold and damp, overcrowded and poor-quality accommodation. 

"A licensing scheme would set standards that will improve housing conditions and make it far harder for unscrupulous landlords to rent out substandard, dangerous and overcrowded properties.”

The council is now engaged in a public consultation exercise for agents, residents, tenants and landlords - it goes on until November 29.

This is not Enfield’s first attempt at licensing.

Back in 2015 Enfield’s Labour authority was one of the ‘early adopters’ of the landlord licensing craze, claiming it would reduce anti-social behaviour and increase the quality of properties to let.

However one landlord - Constantinos Regas - brought a test case against the council after repeatedly speaking against licensing at a series of council meetings. 

A judge found that part of the scheme was "arguably unlawful" and shortly before Christmas 2014 the High Court ruled that Enfield had undertaken insufficient consultation for its policy to be implemented lawfully.

The authority abandoned the licensing attempt after that ruling, returning to it only now - almost five years later.

  • icon

    Bit like the referendum really - if at first you don't succeed, try, try again (until you get the result you want)...

  • S l
    • S l
    • 05 September 2019 11:31 AM

    perhaps we all need to take these licencing matters to court ?? would save us all from these ruthless income revenue by councils

    icon

    Court is expensive. Bog them down with the likes of GDPR and hole-picking in their detail…they often fall foul.

     
    S l
    • S l
    • 05 September 2019 13:27 PM

    how did constantinos regas does it? If he fight his own case and won, then we have precedent case to fall on to win the case. Therefore all he have to pay is the court fees which is a couple of hundreds?

     
    icon

    The JR cost thousands and was won on a point of lack of consultation. Whilst almost all consultation is just for show, other councils won’t make that mistake again. Each scheme would need to be defended on its own merits.

     
  • icon

    .

  • Bryan Shields

    Councils dont have the resources to manage such endevours as it stands. But more inportantly the powers that be, need to clamp down & manage Airbnnb sector that is starting to destroy local communities and more.

    Paul Barrett

    AirBnB has only arisen as a consequence of S24.
    Get rid of S24 and the AirBnB problem largely goes away.
    Of course AirBnB dents LA income as LL withdraw from the AST market which is what mist LA serve.
    AirBnB is largely an illegal enterprise on the basis that few of those listing with AirBnB are doing so in full compliance with all relevant regulations.
    But when you think about fraud abounds in the PRS.
    300000 LL are letting their Residential properties without CTL from their lenders it insurers.
    They house about a million tenants.
    So this effective AirBnB fraud is just a large part of the massive amount of fraud that already occurs in the PRS.
    Slot of this AirBnB fraud is also perpetrated by criminal tenants letting in breach of their tenancy agreement.
    Fraud in the PRS is a massive problem that nobody seems to be doing anything about.
    There is very much a situation of letting sleeping dogs lie.

     
  • S l
    • S l
    • 05 September 2019 20:12 PM

    what makes you think air bnb is fraud? there are no laws against it. others only became interested because air bnb are making money and they want part of their income, nothing more

    Paul Barrett

    Really!!
    Are you seriously that ignorant!?
    Your naivety simply beggars belief!!
    Where to start!?
    There are no residential mortgage lenders as far as I am aware that permit AirBnB lettings.
    Most lenders do permit LODGERS usually no more than two.
    So AirBnB is in breach of mortgage conditions which is fraud as the mortgage was taken out on the basis of Residential occupancy and the mortgage product priced accordingly.
    Then we have fraudulent insurance.
    I know of NO Residential insurer that permits AirBnB letting.
    Any homeowner with a residential mortgage is required to be correctly insured.
    With any AirBnB occupant the homeowner will again be committing fraud as he will not have valid insurance.
    It is a condition of a residential mortgage that the homeowner has valid insurance.

    Next we have those with leasehold properties.
    I know of no Freeholder that permits short term letting like AirBnB.
    Therefore any such usage is breach of the lease.
    The freeholder would be legally entitled to call in the lease.
    Then of course there is the situation where the Freeholder block insurance would not cover damage caused by AirBnB occupants which again would be breach of any mortgage conditions even if a BTL mortgage.
    BTL mortgages have conditions requiring occupancy by tenants on an AST usually of no more than 1 year in length.
    Next we have a planning fraud as AirBnB is a business and Councils require planning permission to change use from a residential to a commercial use.
    Such planning if granted would be breach of Residential mortgage conditions.
    Then Council tax would need to change to business rates.. Again breach of Residential mortgage and BTL mortgage conditions.
    So as you can see there are literally very few circumstances where AirBnB would be legal.
    So my contention remains that most of AirBnB is fraudulent.

     
  • icon

    Well put Paul.

  • Neil Cobbold

    Hi Paul, While I agree not everyone will be operating correctly it is not as simple as outlined that it is automatically contravening rules. A number of providers including LBS now offer Holiday Let Mortgages. These are for owners who want to live in the property or use it for holiday lets as a business. There are also multiple insurance providers offering holiday let insurance products which include guest damage cover. Leases are a more complicated discussion. A freeholder doesn't necessarily have to permit holiday letting if is not forbidden depending on the wording of the lease, unfortunately a lot of historic leases were written before this industry grew and as such do not expressly forbid the practice.

    That being said it is also believable that a number of holiday letting landlords may not be operating legally. Unfortunately the same is still true for residential letting.

    I think we need to do things correctly and stamp out the rogue element whatever the property let in question.

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