PRS Landlords Victory On Selective Licensing By Local Authorities
Government Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP (pictured right), has announced that the selective licensing of private rental sector (PRS) landlords by Local Authorities will require Government approval from 1st April 2015, if they plan to license a large geographical area within borough or city boundaries.
Local authorities have had the power to licence landlords across an entire borough since 2010, in an attempt to combat community issues, such as anti social behaviour in troublesome areas. This blanket approach has seen a sharp increase in the number of selective licensing schemes being introduced by local authorities across the UK, much to the chagrin of landlords.
The changes to local authority selective licensing powers mean that councils will now need Government approval before they are allowed to implement a selective licensing scheme that covers a large geographical area of their council borough or covers an area that contains a proportion of private rented properties, expected to be around 20% of the local private rental market.The Government intervention into local authority selective licensing powers follows 5 years of sustained lobbying by the National Landlord Association, (NLA) and other landlord organisations.
The Government decision to limit local authority powers over the selective licensing of PRS landlords follows on from the February 2015 publication of an NLA report on the state of landlord licensing across the country since 2010.
The report highlighted the boom of blanket landlord licensing schemes introduced by local authorities across the UK since 2010. It also emphasised the lack of appropriate enforcement actions taken by local authorities and showed a direct correlation between the political control of councils and their enthusiasm to license landlords.
NLA Chief Executive, Richard Lambert, commented on Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis’s selective licensing announcement stating: “The NLA have argued solidly since 2010 that local authorities have been abusing their power to push through blanket landlord licensing schemes. This announcement means that if a council intends to licence a large proportion of its housing it will first need to show the case stands up to independent scrutiny. The Government was the first to see a copy of our licensing report, and we’re delighted they have listened to our case because at present the driving force behind licensing landlords seems to be the political will of a given local council, regardless of the evidence. Many local authorities won’t like this decision one bit because until now they’ve been their own judges, and the only way for landlords to challenge them has been through the difficult and complex route of judicial review. Landlords are getting fed up with being unfairly targeted and made responsible for problems such as anti-social behaviour when in reality they have little effective control over the issue, except by the eviction of tenants. Hopefully this now means that councils who are serious about tackling poor rental property standards and anti-social behaviour will first look to the extensive existing legal powers they already have to combat such issues.”
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