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30 Nov, 2020

Rental market – tenants, does your property need a License from the Council?

Posted by: Samantha Peabody In: Buildings|Council|License|Tenants

There has been a lot happening since I last blogged. See below for a link to Mayor of London‘s postcode checker for Licensing Schemes.

London together Covid

London Together against Covid

Many Councils have licensing schemes for landlords, which seems like a good idea at first, but it usually a way for Councils to raise large amounts of money with out doing anything.

The schemes around are primarily to raise money for cash-strapped Councils. They raise million pounds from law-abiding normal landlords, the ones who register, but do nothing about bad or exploitative landlords, who usually rent to people that are under the radar, vulnerable in various ways such as no or poor credit, illegal, HMOs, etc. Apparently during the five years of the recently-ended Croydon scheme, the only (hardly any) prosecutions were for not paying the fee (license is £750, and has fines up to £20,000 for not paying).

See https://insidecroydon.com/2017/11/24/landlord-licensing-scheme-made-one-prosecution-in-a-year/

Councils also don’t have enough inspection staff, and don’t bother to find any. This is why Councils like to set Licenses up for the money, then don’t run them properly.

The other basic observation is that the rental sector is legislated for bad landlords, energy ratings, health & safety, etc. anyway, so why do the Council want the landlords money, when they never investigate anything? If Landlords object they fear they might be persecuted, even if running a professional service.

If you want to see if your landlord should be paying a License fee to the Council check here:

Enter your postcode below to find out whether your privately rented home should have a property licence. Make sure:

  • you are not a council or housing association tenant
  • at least one person in the property pays rent
  • the property is not occupied entirely by the owner and/or members of their family
  • the property is not solely occupied by a resident landlord and up to two lodgers

https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/housing-and-land/improving-private-rented-sector/advice-renters/does-my-rental-home-need-property-licence

Incidentally in my housing management role, one of the worst freeholders are in fact local Councils, who have poor tenant relations, unreliable and slow repairs teams, either over-staffed in-house or usually expensive outsourced (or sometimes a combination of both). I have too many examples of this to bore you all to death here, but a big one is water ingress, which seems to take them by surprise every time, and is usually mis-identified, and very slowly fixed, causing a lot of unnecessary damage.

So good luck.

Samantha P.

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