Dangers Of Selective Licensing Schemes CHG

Dangers Of Selective Licensing Schemes

A legal firm that specialises in helping landlords has issued a warning about the dangers of selective licensing schemes that many local authorities in the UK are implementing.

Selective licensing schemes aim to improve the quality and management of private rented properties in areas with low demand or high antisocial behaviour.

However, Landlord Licensing & Defence claims that the dangers of selective licensing schemes are ineffective, unjustified and costly for landlords, who could face criminal charges for violating licence conditions that are often unreasonable and beyond their control.

Licence conditions could expose landlords to double jeopardy enforcement

The firm’s director, Des Taylor, said that licence conditions could expose landlords to double jeopardy enforcement and entrapment, as they could not control some of their responsibilities, such as a tenant’s behaviour outside the property.

He said: “This may seem unbelievable and 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.”

He urged 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 them.

‘One of the most important documents a landlord will ever receive’

Mr 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.”

He added: “Licence conditions are one of those things that many people think they have to accept as presented and not realising that once you have accepted all the conditions on that licence, that not complying with them is a criminal offence.

“If you have a managing agent and they do not comply you are both culpable, because you agreed to them, by not contesting them through representation.

“The local housing authority can now enforce against you as a criminal offence.”

Seeing more enforcement against licence conditions

Mr Taylor said that Landlord Licensing & Defence was seeing more enforcement against licence conditions as landlords had unwittingly walked into the situation not realising how important they were.

He said that despite the Renters (Reform) Bill introducing a landlord portal and the suggestion that there would no longer be a need for selective licensing, this was 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.

Mr Taylor said: “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.”

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