Licensing Systems Fight Back
Landlords in the seaside town of Hastings have taken to the local press to fight back against yet another local authority’s attempt to impose expensive licensing systems.
The local authority is seeking to introduce selective licensing systems in 10 wards within the town, obliging landlords to pay £500 per property for a five year licence. Council leader Jeremy Birch claims his town has a higher percentage of privately rented accommodation than other towns nearby and “our evidence suggests that higher levels of anti-social behaviour are a feature where high density private renting exists within the town and that’s why we are considering the scheme.” But now the Southern Landlords Association is angry, with spokesman Mike Stimpson telling the Hastings Observer that the council “has not considered recent legislation giving it and the police significant powers to deal with anti-social behaviour, which in our view negates the need for further licensing.” He says the Anti-Social Behaviour and Policing Act 2014 gives both police and local authorities, together with some housing associations, the powers to deal with anti-social behaviour if it comes from tenants or areas of rented accommodation. Critically, private landlords are not a group considered able to carry out the functions available to those bodies, according to the legislation. Mr Stimpson said during the consultation period – which ended on January 5, 2015 – his group had not been informed of the scheme nor invited to any council meetings. In addition he says there is already an existing additional licensing scheme for HMOs in the town, which came into force in 2011 – and he claims the council has not published any reports on the effectiveness of that scheme.
Other individual landlords have also come out against the scheme. Landlord and builder Dennis Sanders is quoted in the Hastings Observer as saying “I was not informed and neither were other landlords I’ve spoken to. …. A landlord cannot be held responsible for the actions of tenants.”
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