Posts with tag: landlord licensing

Call for Government to introduce national landlord register

Published On: October 26, 2021 at 8:19 am


Categories: Landlord News,Law News

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Councils that require landlords to be licensed take more than twice as much enforcement action as those that don’t, a new analysis from Generation Rent has found.

Government figures show that 32 councils with selective licensing schemes identified an average of 158 unsafe homes each, compared with 63 on average across 200 councils without such schemes during 2019-20. Councils with licensing schemes also go on to resolve a higher proportion of these cases. The findings come as the Centre for Public Data (CFPD) publishes a report setting out how the Government should introduce a national landlord register in England.

The CFPD estimates that just 7.4% of England’s private rented homes are covered by council licensing schemes. In contrast, 100% of properties in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are required to register. Such schemes allow private renters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to find out online if their landlord is legally allowed to let out their home. Meanwhile, in England the vast majority of renters cannot check their landlord’s credentials.

Licensing gives councils greater powers to investigate homes and take action where they are found to be unsafe. Of the English councils that reported data in 2019-20, 32 councils that operated selective licensing schemes in that period reported finding 5,052 private rented homes with ‘category 1’ hazards following an inspection. This was an average of 158 homes per council, and 85% of these homes were made free of hazards. There were 200 councils without selective licensing and they reported 12,607 unsafe homes in total. This is just 63 homes per council, and only 65% of cases were resolved.

Anna Powell-Smith, Director of the CFPD, said: “In England, you have to register to run a takeaway or work as an art therapist, but anyone can be a landlord – remarkable given how dangerous it is to live in a property with faulty wiring, boilers or mould. A patchwork of schemes will never give renters the protection they need, and are an inefficient use of council resources. A national register will be cheaper to run and more effective in raising standards.”

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, said: “Existing licensing schemes have a clear track record of helping councils to identify unsafe homes and bring them up to standard, but the vast majority of private renters are not protected by them. Nationwide landlord registration would give enforcement authorities valuable intelligence about this sector, make it easier to inform tenants of their rights, and prevent criminals from renting out homes in the first place.”

Councils called on to help improve safety of private rented homes

Published On: April 30, 2021 at 8:14 am


Categories: Law News,Tenant News

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Ahead of the local elections, Generation Rent is calling on councils to commit to serving improvement notices every time they find a dangerous private rented home.

Generation Rent believes such action will help to drive out criminal landlords and raise the quality of homes for local renters.

The organisation points out that local authorities in England are responsible for enforcing safety standards in private rented homes. If a severe ‘Category 1’ hazard is found on an inspection, the council can serve the landlord with an improvement notice, which compels them to make repairs. This prevents the landlord from serving the tenant with a retaliatory no-fault eviction for six months. If the landlord fails to act on an improvement notice, the council can fine or prosecute them, and the tenant can apply for a Rent Repayment Order.

Generation Rent made Freedom of Information requests to 110 councils representing around two-thirds of the private renter population in England regarding their enforcement activity in 2019-2020. Of the councils that responded, 76 recorded 11,570 Category 1 hazards in private rented homes. These councils served only 2,814 improvement notices, representing 24.3% of hazards found, and leaving thousands of tenants without the protections they are entitled to.

The figure was similar the year before, at 24.6%, although it was improved from 20.5% in 2017-2018.

A poll of 1,008 private renters, conducted by Survation in February 2021, indicates there is little confidence in their council taking appropriate action. 35% said they would contact the council if their landlord had failed to fix something, but 44% said they would look for somewhere else to live. Generation Rent is therefore calling on councils to improve the way they communicate with local renters, to raise awareness of their rights and how the council can help.

The use of landlord licensing could make it easier for tenants to request inspections. It could also make it easier for councils to stop landlords from operating and seize unsafe properties. However, only 55 councils have licensing schemes that cover more properties than the legal minimum, and only 10 of those have applied to the Government to introduce schemes that cover more than 20% of the local rental market. Generation Rent is also calling on councils without licensing schemes to introduce them.

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “Things have to get pretty bad before the council comes around to inspect a problem property and criminal landlords will try anything to avoid doing work. 

“Inaction by councils serves only to discourage renters from reporting safety problems, and to embolden landlords who cut corners. With no council support, tenants move out, and because so many people are desperate for a home, the landlord has no difficulty in finding a new victim.

“Budgets are tight, and there’s no question the government must provide more funding to drive out criminal landlords. But there are councils already doing the right thing across the country and these elections are a chance to elect councillors who will champion renters’ interests and adopt good practices to keep their homes safe.”

Nottingham landlord licensing scheme a farce, says RLA

Published On: November 21, 2019 at 9:43 am


Categories: Law News

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Fewer than 3% of full licences applied for in Nottingham as part of a landlord licensing scheme have so far been issued.

It was in August 2018 that Nottingham City Council introduced a Selective Licensing Scheme across many parts of the city. This was a key part of its efforts to address the quality and management of private rented housing.

However, the figures provided to the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee show that it has not worked according to plan. By August 2019, whilst 17,523 applications for a licence had been received, only 472 final licences were issued. The Council has estimated that a total of 24,000 applications are eventually likely to be received.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) is branding the painfully slow progress in processing applications a farce and has called on the Council to scrap this pointless scheme.

The RLA has highlighted that the issuing of a licence is not linked to any form of property inspection by the Council. Tenants cannot be sure that such a licence will actually mean landlords will meet all the required standards.

In addition, because there is no way of checking whether or not a licence application has been made, tenants cannot tell if their landlord has applied and is simply waiting for the Council to process the application or is flouting the law altogether.

The RLA is calling for all forms of landlord licensing schemes to be scrapped as part of the General Election campaign. Instead, it is calling for councils to use the wide array of data they can already access such as from council tax returns, benefit and electoral roll data and information from the Land Registry to identify landlords.

It is further calling on councils such as Nottingham to spend more time and resources finding and rooting out criminal landlords rather than wasting resources tying good landlords up in bureaucratic knots.

David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA, said: “Nottingham Council cannot have it both ways. Either it believes landlord licences are important, in which case they should process applications promptly, or they do not, in which case they should scrap what amounts to a money-making scheme.

“The reality is that the Council is targeting responsible landlords whilst doing nothing to find and root out bad landlords who will have no intention of applying for a licence. This is purely a money-making bureaucratic exercise which will not benefit tenants in any way.”

New Licensing Rules and Penalties for Rogue Landlords Set to be Agreed

Published On: October 10, 2017 at 9:49 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Harsher penalties for rogue landlords in York could soon come into force, while new licensing rules are close to being approved in Havering, east London.

City of York Council is considering imposing fines of up to £30,000 on landlords that do not meet safety and licensing regulations, as an alternative to prosecution.

New Licensing Rules and Penalties for Rogue Landlords Set to be Agreed

New Licensing Rules and Penalties for Rogue Landlords Set to be Agreed

The council believes that the proposed new measures will give it the additional powers needed to tackle poor quality rental homes in the local area, raise standards and give tenants the protections they need.

The decision follows an agreement by senior councillors almost two weeks ago that penalties could be used as formal enforcement action, to ensure that no landlord can gain financially from any failure to comply with legislation.

Councillor Sam Lisle, the Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods at City of York Council, says: “Introducing these penalties follows Government guidelines and complements our work to support landlords to further improve standards, which I’m pleased to see is ongoing.”

Government guidance advises that, when setting the penalty for an offence, factors such as the level of culpability, level of harm, severity of the offence, mitigating factors and deterring other failures must be taken into account.

“High quality homes are good for the city’s private tenants and, in the long-term, for the landlords themselves,” Lisle adds.

The decision session will take place on Monday 16th October 2017 from 4pm and will be available to watch here:

Meanwhile, plans to introduce an additional licensing scheme across 12 wards in Havering, east London look set to be approved tomorrow.

Local councillors will meet to discuss the proposal to charge landlords £900 to register their properties with Havering Council.

Aside from boosting council finances, it is hoped that the proposed licensing scheme will help to improve local housing conditions and anti-social behaviour in locations where there are large numbers of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs).

The 12 wards that would be affected are: Brooklands; Mawneys; Elm Park; Pettits; Gooshays; Rainham & Wennington; Harold Wood; Romford Town; Havering Park; South Hornchurch; Heaton; and Squirrels Heath.

Under the scheme, landlords in these areas would have to purchase five-year licences for their properties, paid in two parts, which would cost £900 in total – although a discounted fee of £762.50 is available for those who sign up before the end of February.

A council report, which is set to be debated by cabinet members, states: “The introduction of a suitable licensing scheme will enable a significant change in the way that anti-social behaviour and poor management associated with some of the private rented sector is tackled.

“Through licensing, the council will know who is responsible for the management of properties that are rented out and who is responsible for dealing with problems associated with the dwelling.”

We remind all landlords to stay on top of the regulations governing the private rental sector in the locations they operate.

New HMO Licensing Rules Expected in Spring 2018

Published On: September 28, 2017 at 9:58 am


Categories: Landlord News

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New House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing rules are expected to be introduced in spring 2018. The laws could require landlords to carry out restructuring work on their properties or face heavy fines.

New HMO Licensing Rules Expected in Spring 2018

New HMO Licensing Rules Expected in Spring 2018

Landlords who own HMOs will require new licences under the rules. 60,000 HMOs across the UK already require a licence, but it is estimated that a further 174,000 properties will be subject to mandatory licensing changes aimed at improving housing conditions.

The new licensing rules will impose minimum standards on room sizes, storage facilities and waste disposal for all HMOs, including conversions and properties of multiple use.

The legislation will also scrap the requirement that all HMOs have at least three storeys in order to fall within the scope of the licensing.

Under the plans, local councils will also be granted additional powers to adjust the benchmarks and licensing fees if they see fit. However, some property owners believe that regions outside London won’t be affected, because the new standards are already being met. This raises concerns that more needs to be done by the Government to dispel this myth and inform all HMO landlords of the impending changes.

If you fail to comply with the new licensing rules, you could find yourself with rooms that you can no longer let, undersized living areas and a serious gap in your rental income.

The new regulations are likely to pile pressure on landlords, who already face a number of new financial headwinds, such as the higher rate of Stamp Duty and cuts to mortgage interest tax relief.

The legislation was initially due to be introduced in spring this year, but was delayed due to the snap General Election. This is good news for landlords, however, as it allows a grace period to catch up with the new licensing rules, which are expected to be brought in in April 2018.

The following are the main changes under the Government’s new licensing rules for HMOs to be aware of:

  • Removal of the three-storey rule
  • Incorporate flats that are situated above or below commercial premises
  • A new minimum size requirement of 6.52m2, which is in line with the current standard for overcrowding. This size is likely to be 10m2 for HMOs in which all tenants have their own bathrooms, but share other facilities, such as a kitchen

Other proposals include:

  • A fit and proper person test for landlords looking to obtain a licence
  • A requirement for landlords to provide sufficient storage facilities to deal with the holding and disposal of all household waste

Are you prepared for the changes?

Council Warns Rogue Landlords: “We’re Coming for You”

Published On: September 21, 2017 at 9:12 am


Categories: Landlord News

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Brent Council has once again vowed to clamp down on rogue landlords in the local area, after 35 men were found living in a three-bedroom house in north London.

The men had been cramped into every room, other than the bathrooms, with bedding. Even the kitchen had a sleeping area, while another mattress was found laid out under a canopy in the back garden, with no protection against the night temperatures.

Council Warns Rogue Landlords: "We're Coming for You"

Council Warns Rogue Landlords: “We’re Coming for You”

The discovery was made on Winchester Avenue, Queensbury, at around 6am on Tuesday, when Brent Council enforcement officers and police officers entered the property after neighbours complained about overcrowding, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

An investigation is under way to track down the landlord of the unlicensed House in Multiple Occupation (HMO).

Councillor Harbi Farah, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform at Brent Council, says: “Rogue landlords make their money by exploiting people who can least afford it – it’s a shameful practice and this is an especially shocking example.

“Any landlord treating their tenants unfairly should be in notice – we’re coming for you.”

Last week, Brent Council voted in new civil penalty measures to find rogue landlords up to £30,000 for breaching housing laws, such as letting unlicensed properties.

Meanwhile, Hackney Council is planning to introduce a selective licensing scheme in an effort to crack down on rogue landlords in the local area, as well as reduce anti-social behaviour in private rental properties.

The council’s consultation on the proposed scheme in Brownswood, Cazenove and Stoke Newington wards will run until 3rd December 2017.

Hackney Council is consulting all residents, landlords and businesses living and operating in the borough on proposals to introduce two new licensing schemes for private rental housing in the borough.

The council is proposing an additional licensing scheme for all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) and a selective licensing scheme for all private rental properties.

The full draft proposal can be accessed here:—full-draft-proposals.pdf

This week, Councillor Sem Moema launched a consultation on new powers designed to protect the borough’s tenants from living in “appalling conditions”.

Under the plans, landlords in Stoke Newington and Clapton, where the council reports that 20% of renters face issues like dangerous boilers, exposed wiring or vermin infestations, would require a licence from the town hall to ensure that their properties are safe and well-maintained.

Councillor Moema explains: “One in three homes in Hackney is privately rented, and too many renters face a raw deal of spiralling rents and a poor service from a minority of rogue landlords.

“Our research has exposed that, in some parts of our borough, tenants face appalling conditions that put their safety at risk despite paying an average of £1,820 a month in rent for a standard two-bedroom home.”

She insists: “This is simply unacceptable. We believe that introducing these licensing measures will give us the powers we need to tackle landlords who exploit renters and make sure their homes are safe, secure and well-maintained.

“But, crucially, we want as many renters, landlords and residents who experience these issues first-hand to respond to this consultation and give their views on our proposals.”

What are your thoughts on these crack downs?