Agents back curbs on councils’ licensing ‘tax’
The Association of Residential Letting Agents has thrown its weight behind a bid by the government to curb the outbreak of landlord licensing schemes introduced by councils across Britain – schemes which ARLA has dubbed ‘tenant taxes’. The licensing schemes have been introduced in many areas under the guise of efforts to control the anti-social behaviour which some people link to private rental sector tenants, and to allegedly improve the standard of property being let.
“ARLA welcomes the new proposals. It’s important that rogue landlords are prevented from exploiting vulnerable tenants but ARLA believes that only targeted, intelligence-led enforcement, rather than blanket licensing, will remove rogue landlords from the private rented sector” says David Cox, the association’s managing director.
He says too many councils have created large scale landlord licensing schemes that have failed to achieve their aims. He claims: “This is because budgets are spent on the huge administrative task of licensing tens of thousands of properties. The result is that rogue landlords who operate substandard properties, the very people the schemes are designed to tackle, are left to continue operating under the radar, as resources are not available for effective enforcement.”
ARLA calculates that of the 50-plus licensing schemes in place, only the scheme in Newham has been successful and that is due to Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, committing a huge amount of local resources to enforcement.
“That is why ARLA has argued that rather than licensing schemes, as local authority enforcement teams are so overstretched and so under resourced, prosecutions must be simpler. Rather than court action, Fixed Penalty Notices will reverse the burden of proof and expedite enforcement” suggests Cox.
“Being able to keep the fines they levy will make enforcement teams revenue generators rather than budget drains [and] allowing more Enforcement Officers, more prosecutions and a more professional industry” he says.