Local authority admits to widespread non-compliance over licensing

A local authority which introduced mandatory licensing of all HMOs plus other licensing at the start of this year has now received over 5,000 online applications.

But this could mean that up to three-quarters of landlords in the London borough of Brent are breaking the law.

Brent Council started inviting applications for licences last November and says it has now approved some 4,000.

Apart from the additional licensing scheme that now catches all HMOs, selective licensing applies to all rental properties in some areas of the borough.

At the launch, Brent Council estimated that there were 20,000 licensable properties, although it was not clear whether this number included mandatory licensed HMOs.

Landlords caught without a licence will have to pay an extra £300 “finders’ fee” and face being fined up to £20,000.

Prosecutions have already taken place for failure to licence.

One landlord, Douglas Gerard-Reynolds, has been fined twice in respect of his unlicensed properties and ordered to pay over £10,000 in total.

Cllr Margaret McLennan, pictured, lead member for housing and development at Brent Council, said: “It is fantastic to reach this milestone of 5,000 applications but there are still many more rental properties in Brent that need a licence.

“We want to work with the good landlords to drive out the minority of bad ones and so I thank all of those landlords who have already shown their co-operation and submitted their applications to us.”

Margaret McLennan_CMYK(1)

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7 Comments

  1. Will

    Oh what a surprise the so called rogue landlords do not want to pay extortionate fees to the another rogue council on the make. Only a 25% take up probably from the good guys.  I have to conclude this is all about councils making money like Croydon.  So the licenses are for 5 years – so if the councils have not removed every rogue landlord in that 5 years will all the good guys get a full refund?  My guess is they will want to renew licenses after 5 years to maintain their income stream.

    The world is now filling with legalized scammers. You have payday loan companies charging is excess of 1,000% pa but that’s legal ‘cos they buy a license, but previously would have been called loan sharks. Rogue Councils who now want between £500- £1,000 on EVERY PROPERTY.  THIS IS TAXATION;  if it were licensing there would be once license per landlord.

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  2. MF

    Agree with Will.  Another thing that winds me up is that none of the Councils whose boroughs we work in ( and that’s several) ever provide us with information/advance warning of their new schemes.  We always have to go looking for the info.  I asked one of them about this once and they replied “well it’s on our website”.  So every time we have an application for a property we have to go to whichever council’s website and trawl their pages checking for updates, just in case?  Surely they can write to all the letting agents in their area when they drastically move the goalposts with things like Additional Licensing?

    Another thing: I want to see annual reports from all councils operating these schemes to show how many unfit homes they’ve dealt with, how much revenue they’ve raised, how much the scheme has cost to run, and the suchlike.  This is a call for transparency and accountability from the councils to the people they serve.

    For the good landlords, “fill out a lengthy form and give us loads of money”, for practically nothing in return, just isn’t good enough.

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    1. new life

      Well said. I could not agree more local authority = Dick Turpin

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  3. Will

    MF is of course right with  his/her comments. Anyone following the Croydon Council/Croydon Property forum Judicial Review will see the points MF makes.  The Councils seem to think they are omnipotent and feel they should decide the level of consultation, thankfully Enfield lost their case to a sole (but very brave) landlord with just one property due to inadequate consultation.

     

    Moreover, why would any Council think because its on their web site everyone should know? How arrogant is that!

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    1. Anonymous Coward

      The “inadequate consultation” thing is just a delaying tactic I’m afraid. For every landlord or agent that says “No” there’ll be 10 tenants/ shelter/ other who say “Yes” and the council know it.

      What surprises me is that they make these stupid consultation mistakes in the first place which means that the implementation costs skyrocket.

      It really is a desperate attempt to generate additional revenue.

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  4. Richard Tacagni

    MF raises a good point about how letting agents are larger portfolio landlords are supposed to keep track of all the licensing schemes now in operation (and more on the way). For London based agents, you can visit the London Property Licensing website where you will find details of every licensing scheme in a simple and user-friendly format. Unfortunately, outside of London you’ll need to check each council’s website and that’s not an easy task. Maybe I’ll expand the LPL service one day!

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  5. Anonymous Coward

    HOLD ON.

    Let’s get this straight – it’s taken 9 months to process 4,000 applications out of 5,000 and this still leaves 75% of the rented properties in the borough outside the scheme.

    Can someone explain to me exactly what would have happened if every single landlord said “OK then, I’ll register” and they had to actually knuckle down and do the job properly?

    What a complete farce and ABSOLUTE proof that this is nothing more than a revenue generation scheme. If it was truly there to look out for the interests of the tenants then they should have got this far by the end of February and should have been knocking down the doors of landlords to insist they sign up.

    Disgusting.

     

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