A trade body has come out against a council’s HMO licensing scheme, claiming that its consultation period was too short - and may have breached guidelines.
Cardiff council wants to renew an addition HMO licensing scheme, and is proposing adding an additional ward to the boundary of the scheme.
The authority is justifying the extension of the scheme overall to “build upon the positive improvements already achieved and further improve and maintain the quality of smaller HMOs and safety and security of tenants”.
However, the Residential Landlords Association has come out against the proposal saying that - amongst other criticisms - the best practice guidelines from both the UK Government and the National Assembly for Wales recommends that for a consultation of this importance, a minimum period of 12 weeks would be required with additional time considered should the consultation period fall over public holidays.
The RLA says: “This consultation was only open for seven weeks, with the Christmas and New Year break in the middle.”
The association also warns that there were technical problems in accessing some consultation documents, with no link to the consultation document itself on the online live consultation page.
In addition, the RLA claims, “criminal landlords will simply ignore the scheme” in the same way they ignore many other regulations.
The council is proposing to charge landlords between £475 and £550 per property to obtain an additional HMO licence. The RLA is concerned that landlords would likely pass this cost on to tenants in the form of increased rents to cover the cost of applying for a licence-doing nothing to address affordability.
The association also queries the effectiveness of the current additional licensing scheme, citing a statement in the consultation document which says: “Currently 37 per cent of the additional properties are confirmed as being up to standard, including those that were complaint on the application and those as a result of the licensing process. Additional levels of security are required for properties licensing under the Scheme, which has resulted in 521 notices being served in relation to security since the Scheme was implemented, 17 per cent of which have been confirmed as complied”.
The RLA insists that “this raises questions over the claims that the scheme has been successful” and adds: “This reads like more of a failing policy given that 37 per cent includes properties that were up to standard before the application stage - and well over half of the properties remain uncompliant.”