A group of local landlords and others in the private rental sector are challenging a local authority’s licensing proposals with their own alternative.
Durham county council wants a new selective licensing scheme, charging up to £590 per property; however, local agents and landlords, supported by the National Residential Landlords Association, are proposing an alternative.
The proposals are being put forward by Durham Private Landlords Supporting Standards (DPLuSS).
On the organisation’s website it states: “Rather than imposing a coercive Selective Licensing scheme, Durham County Council should seek a public/private sector partnership to improve the standards of rented properties in County Durham and the life outcomes of its residents.
“We think cooperative working gives better focus and less red tape - good private rented sector providers are encouraged and assisted to raise their standards while those who don’t cooperate can be targeted and either forced to comply or taken out of business.
“By contrast Selective Licensing hits landlords, agents, renters, homeowners and local businesses. It offers poor value for money because so much is spent on scheme administration rather than enforcement. Scheme fees can only be used for running the scheme and councils have to foot some costs of setting up and renewing schemes.”
The alternative would be a scheme regulated voluntarily but with oversight by the council and DPLuSS; non-members of the group would continue to be regulated by the council.
“There are more than 150 Acts of Parliament and 400 regulations affecting landlords in the private rented sector. Rather than relying on licensing schemes to regulate landlords, Councils should use the enforcement powers they already have, such as civil penalties and banning orders” continues DPLuSS.
And on the NRLA site, Suzy Chivers - a landlord and chair of DPLuSS - writes: “Durham Council are proposing a selective licensing scheme that is currently in public consultation until 24 May 2020, despite the current COVID-19 recommendations. Because of our concerns over the proposal we had approached the council at the end of 2019 with an alternative which we feel will achieve the same objectives.
“The good, law abiding landlords will be forced to pay a significant fee to obtain a licence to rent out each of their properties (which could mean rental increases for tenants), whilst the bad landlords will ignore the scheme and continue to flout the law to the detriment of tenants and/or neighbourhoods.
“We believe the Durham PLuSS proposal, which would be a collaborative scheme with the council, is a better way forward. Currently more than 400 landlords, accounting for over 5,000 rental properties, have come on board with us and we would encourage other landlords with rental properties across Durham Council area to sign up. There are no costs involved to sign up and we aim to keep landlords informed as the proposal progresses.”