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Council pushes through £750 licensing scheme

Croydon council has decided to push ahead with its borough-wide scheme to licence private rental sector properties, because it can make the decision inside a deadline set by the government.Earlier this week Letting Agent Today reported that Croydon looked set to defy the government’s policy change to prevent councils implementing blanket schemes such as the one proposed by Croydon – where every private landlord will have to pay for a licence for each rental property owned.

Brandon Lewis, the housing minister, has written to all local authorities to say such blanket schemes are unreasonable because they hit good landlords without necessarily controlling bad ones, with the cost of the licenses effectively passed to the tenants through likely higher rents.

Croydon’s proposals are amongst the most expensive of any of the licensing schemes across the country, with landlords told they will have to pay £750 every five years for each property they let, cut to £350 if they apply within the first three months of the scheme.

Those who fail to sign up could, in theory, face prosecution and a £20,000 fine and the council could even take over management of the property. There are some 30,000 privately rented properties in the borough.

Croydon’s controlling Labour group says the letter from Lewis is merely an attempt to “bully” councils. “I will not be intimidated by the government. The scheme is welcome by the many good landlords in Croydon, by tenants and by the communities who are fed up of seeing their streets covered in rubbish by those landlords that are not so good” claims council leader Tony Newman.

But Conservative group leader Tim Pollard says the move is “a seriously flawed decision” trying to beat a deadline which comes into effect in six weeks’ time.

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