The Great Yarmouth Borough Council has been threatened with a judicial review by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA). The letter to the Borough Council details serious concerns over its plans for selective licensing schemes across Great Yarmouth.
The authority is proposing to bring rented homes in parts of the Nelson electoral ward into the scope of selective licensing. However, the RLA believes that one of the conditions in particular is unlawful, and has written to the council for urgent clarification on the matter.
The RLA believes that the authority’s plans for all landlords to join a ‘landlord support service’ run by a third-party delivery partner, are unlawful.
What would the cost be to landlords?
Under current plans, the licensing scheme is due to be introduced with fees set at more than £500 per property for the five-year licensing period. The landlord would also have to contribute £9.50 a month to the landlord support scheme. This is also 20% more expensive for the landlord too, as VAT is payable to the chosen delivery partner.
The RLA believes the council has no power to impose such a condition, which it pointed out in its official response to the licensing consultation earlier this year: ‘A local authority may only charge one fee – for a licence application. The scheme proposed by Great Yarmouth appears to both charge two fees and allow a third party to retain 80% of the fees charged. Again, this is unlawful.
‘Should a landlord be rejected by the scheme, there appears to be no route to obtain a licence. Nor does there appear to be an appeal process. Should a local authority refuse a licence, then the landlord can appeal to tribunal. It is not clear if a tribunal could hear an appeal from landlords refused membership of a third party scheme, even though this effectively denies them a licence.’
David Smith, RLA policy director, said: “We are asking for immediate clarification on the council’s position.
“If our understanding is correct, we want the council to reconsider this aspect of the scheme and come up with a lawful alternative.
“If it will not, we will move ahead and issue a claim for a judicial review on this basis.”
Great Yarmouth Borough Council is not the first to come up against opposition to proposals for selective licensing schemes. Brighton and Hove City Council recently lost permission to introduce a selective licensing scheme that was due to go live in February.