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Landlords suffer ‘double jeopardy’ with selective licensing schemes

Landlords can suffer a ‘double jeopardy’ of tenants committing anti-social behaviour and taking action against them due to selective licensing schemes, Landlord Licensing & Defence has warned.

Des Taylor, a director of Landlord Licensing & Defence, said: “There are cases currently being defended where tenants have confessed to damaging the property and not permitting access, yet the landlord and agent are being enforced against under licence conditions.

“Many landlords and agents do not realise how important it is to comply with them.”

The organisation noted that selective licensing schemes are meant to improve the standards and management of private rented properties in areas with low housing demand or high levels of antisocial behaviour.

However it claimed such schemes are ineffective, unjustified and costly for landlords, who face the risk of criminal prosecution for breaching licence conditions that are often unreasonable and beyond their control.

Taylor added: “Despite the Renters (Reform) Bill introducing a landlord portal and the suggestion that there would no longer be a need for selective licensing, this appears to be ignored by Parliament and by the tenant lobbying organisations along with the environmental health officers who carry out housing enforcement under the Housing Act 2004.

“It looks like licensing is here to stay and more and more licensing is coming about with new selective licensing schemes coming into city areas outside London, including the recently and most publicised Birmingham City Council and Nottingham City Council schemes.”

He added: “There is no evidence that a licensing scheme ever achieves the outcomes promised at the time of the proposal and furthermore it is not understood why the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, continues to support those schemes where the local housing authority wishes to apply the selective licensing scheme in more than 20% of its geographical area.

“There does not appear to be any justification most of the time and some are abandoned, some are renewed yet little, or nothing is achieved by the schemes.

“Most of the time it is more revenue for the council in licensing fees and the ability to enforce under a breach of licence conditions.”

He advised landlords who are applying for licences for the first time, or who already have licences to check them and read the conditions carefully and ensure that they are compliant with it.

Taylor said: “That Notice of Intent to Grant a Licence is one of the most important documents a landlord will ever receive in the process yet is often taken as a fait accompli.

“You legally have the opportunity to make representations in a minimum of 14 days and it is vital if you disagree with any of the conditions that you must make representations.”