As the UK government tries to tackle problems within the private housing sector, many councils are considering putting landlord licensing into place, or have already done so. Powers have been devolved to local authorities, which means as it stands there are different rules for landlords depending on where in the UK they let properties – causing chaos for private landlords across the country.
Many landlords aren’t happy about the new licensing laws, as it means they will have to fork out for the license and possibly improve the health and safety standard of properties before being granted one. However, councils claim a licensing scheme is essential to drive up housing standards and deter rogue landlords operating in the area.
With the confusion surrounding the new legislation, landlords have already been fined for not complying. In Blackpool, local landlord Owen Baguley has been convicted of failing to comply with Blackpool’s Selective Licensing Scheme and has to pay over £1,000 in fines and court costs for misunderstanding the new law. He appealed the decision at a hearing last month but was overruled by the court.
Mr Baguley, the landlord in question, claims as the property was under the control of a management company, he thought he didn’t have to apply for a license. Council bosses were not sympathetic and he was given a £750 fine. The council is coming down strong on the private rental sector, as they have also hired more enforcement officers to help residents stay safe from rogue landlords.
It’s not just in Blackpool where the landlord licensing scheme is causing trouble – Croydon council plan to launch its version of the scheme in October but it’s facing a judicial review. The license in this London borough will ensure every landlord is “fit and proper” for the role of managing property, and is also designed to cut down on anti-social behaviour.
A group of landlords have joined together to oppose the new licensing plans, arguing that anti-social behaviour in the area has no link to the private rented sector. Under the current plans, landlords will be required to pay £750 for a five year license, and landlords found in breach of the license could face fines of £20,000 or even prosecution.
It looks like landlords everywhere will soon have a new license to budget for, so we suggest planning for the new costs in advance. Landlords should also check they are well protected by their landlord insurance policy, so they aren’t presented with any last minute costly emergencies from tenants or maintenance problems.
What’s your opinion on the new licensing laws? An unjust landlord tax or an efficient way to police private landlords?