Councils will now need to be more careful how they introduce additional licencing schemes for privately rented accommodation after a borough in London withdraw its planned scheme following a legal challenge.
In July Hounslow proceeded with plans for the scheme but the decision was challenged jointly by the Residential Landlords Association and Safeagent, both of which threatened to take it to a judicial review.
“This is a victory for common sense – we are pleased Hounslow Council took on board the issues we raised about the validity of their proposed scheme,” says Isobel Thomson, Chief Executive of Safeagent (left).
“It is important that councils do not just automatically view licensing as the panacea for all ills in the PRS.
“There are other existing options at their disposal which could be used more sensibly and would not involve the cost or the level of administration that licensing does.”
It is claimed that Hounslow failed to follow due process during both its ;property licensing scheme consultation and decision making and gave the impression it was a ‘rubber stamping’ exercise.
This included omitting to provide the information being used to inform the decision, failing to prove that there was poor HMO management within the borough and neglecting to provide evidence of how the scheme was consistent with the borough’s housing policy.
Lawyers acting for the borough have now confirmed that it is now likely to begin another property licensing scheme consultation.
“Instead of tying up good landlords with red tape whilst the criminals continue operating under the radar, the council needs to develop proper enforcement strategies focussed on rooting out those who bring the sector into disrepute,” says David Smith, Policy Director for the RLA (left).
“Licensing does not achieve this.”