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Covid throws London borough’s property licensing into disarray

Southwark's selective schemes have ended with no renewal date set yet – leaving many agents and landlords in limbo.

Nigel Lewis

southwark property licensing

Southwark Council’s additional and selective property licensing schemes – which ended on 31st December – are not likely to start up again until the summer.

The London borough approved plans to develop new five-year schemes last April but shelved its public consultation due to the pandemic.

London Property Licensing (LPL) says that if the council decides to implement replacements, a designation has to be made at least three months before they come into force, which makes it unlikely that any new licensing schemes would start until later this year.

LPL says the council previously acknowledged that licences can be granted for up to five years regardless of the end date and, during 2019, decided to extend the expiry date on some beyond 31st December 2020.

Existing licences under the previous schemes covered about 15,000 properties and will remain in force until their expiry date unless they are revoked.

Replacement schemes

A council spokesman says: “The council is currently working on proposals for replacement schemes but these will not start for some time.

“Any licences that have not expired will be valid for the future schemes when they come in however, until those new schemes start there is no requirement for landlords to apply for licences that have expired.”

It adds that landlords and lettings agents with HMOs may still need to apply for a licence under the mandatory licensing scheme.

Phil Turtle, of Landlord Licensing and Defence, warns that although Southwark’s licensing schemes have ended, landlords are not safe.

“The council’s aggressive enforcement and civil penalty fine regime will not stop,” he says. “Every HMO from three persons up must comply with the HMO management regulations and all rental properties must comply with the housing health and safety rating system.”

Read more about Southwark.

January 8, 2021

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