Tenants complain as more licensing pushes up rents

Posted: 4/5/2016

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It is unlikely that the policy makers at Whitehall read the Fenland Citizen – but it would be no bad thing if they did.

And one certainly hopes that the local council keeps a close watch on the paper’s letters page.

Here, the subject of compulsory licensing – as encouraged by central government – is currently under discussion.

One writer, a tenant, says her rent has gone up £20 a month to pay for the licence her landlord must now obtain. It is, she says, fair to neither tenant nor landlord.

Another tenant describes the new selective licensing regime as “a joke”, with landlords having to pass on the £575 cost per property of a five-year licence to tenants.

This writer makes the point: “The council must drive these bad landlords out of town using other revenue. The good, law-abiding landlords and tenants must not pay for it.”

A third letter comes from someone who says: “Legislation already exists to deal with bad landlords and housing, so it looks like Fenland wants landlords to finance their own prosecutions.”

The letters have been published as the chairman of the Residential Landlords Association, Alan Ward, once again called on local councils to use the legal powers they already have.

Ward said: “With over 400 regulations to play with, councils are not struggling for powers to tackle the crooks.

“What is needed is a radical change that enables them to properly use them. Freedom of Information data compiled by the RLA suggests that at least 138 councils in England have not started any prosecutions against landlords over the past five years.

“Many simply do not have the will or the resources to properly enforce the regulations.

“Councils need to be freed up to target resources on finding and dealing with the crooks. Too often they adopt the easy route through schemes such as licensing, where the good landlords pay their fees.

“Instead of taxing landlords, and those costs being passed on to tenants, councils should be smarter and adopt programmes that enable them to focus on tackling the landlords who stay under the radar.

Thankfully, in Northern Ireland, the licensing scheme has been reasonably moderate in price, working out around under 50p per week (unless you are an HMO owner) but we understand that the scheme has been next to useless in terms of aiding enforcement of housing/rent regulations. After all, the landlord's information was always available to councils on the land registry.

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