ARLA Propertymark has hit out at a growing number of local councils introducing licensing schemes, calling it “socially irresponsible” to do this during the pandemic.
“This is because in these unprecedented times landlords and agents are not able to comply with the requirements and council resources are unlikely to be able to effectively enforce them” says the association on its website.
In response to proposals from Liverpool, Oxford, Doncaster, Gedling and Southend-on-Sea councils, Propertymark has reminded local authorities about guidance issued from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the need to take a pragmatic approach to the introduction of schemes during g the Coronavirus crisis, as well as a common-sense approach to enforcement.
The guidance also says that where local authorities are in the process of introducing selective or additional Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing schemes, but these are not yet in force they should continue to take a pragmatic approach.
It adds that councils should be prepared to pause the process completely where it is not safe and reasonable to continue or if it conflicts with the latest government advice on the Covid-19 outbreak.
“With some agents furloughed or continuing to work from home, they are unable to access relevant paperwork and documentation to complete licensing scheme applications and process fees” says Propertymark.
“Furthermore, it remains difficult for the sector to comply with new and existing legislation, which includes access to the property to carry out maintenance work, renovation, checks or meet the requirements of any licensing schemes.
“Additionally, many landlords continue to be impacted financially with extreme Covid-19 related arrears still yet to be recovered. To this end, if landlords who cannot afford the license fee decide not to pay and remove their property from the market, tenants will be forced to seek new homes placing people at risk and spreading rather than stemming the pandemic.”