RLA clamps down on councils’ unlawful licence fees
Council plans to unlawfully charge landlords for licence fees variations and exemptions notices are being opposed by the RLA.
The association has written to two councils in England expressing its concern over the proposals.
The RLA submitted a letter to Greenwich Council over a plans to charge £200 to vary licence fees, outlined on its website, a move it considers unlawful.
The Housing Act 2004 allows for licence fees to be charged for only one action in relation to HMO or Selective Licensing, which is the application itself.
This was reinforced in a court case between Crompton v Oxford City Council, which made it clear that the only charging point for the HMO or Selective Licensing was at the point of license application.
The RLA says that while it appreciates the need of local authorities to use their resources ‘efficiently’ this does not extend to charging fees that are not lawfully permitted.
The RLA is awaiting confirmation from Greenwich Council that this proposed fee will not, in fact, be charged.
Charges for temporary exemption notices
The RLA has also written a letter to Stoke on Trent Council on a similar issue, in which, according to the council’s website, the authority proposes to charge a fee for granting temporary exemption notices (TENs).
A temporary exemption notice provides an exemption from the need to license a property for a temporary period of up to three months.
They allow landlords a short period of exemption from requiring a licence, for example in cases where a landlord has unexpectedly found that their property needs a licence, so they can put the situation right.
In the RLA’s letter to Stoke on Trent Council, it says that the RLA believes charging this fee is unlawful. Also, the number of TEN applications are very small, and the level of processing required for them is minimal.
The RLA is also awaiting a response that this proposed fee will not, in fact be charged.
Harrow Council licensing plan
The RLA has also written to Harrow Council to express its concern over its recent designation of the wards of Roxeth and Roxbourne for selective licensing.
The RLA is concerned about the short period of time for the designation, given that it is only for two years, despite the maximum length of a designation being five years.
Also, the RLA is concerned that the public notice refers to a map at ‘[Annex A’], however no such map is available. It would be helpful for the council to provide the designation in full.
Written by Victoria Barker