A proposed licence condition set out by Burnley Council which would require property managers to live within a 40 minute drive of the property they let out has been labelled ‘excessive’ by the RLA.

The licence condition is just one of the things that Burnley Council would require landlords to comply with, should the proposed selective licensing scheme come into force in the town.

The proposal

Burnley Council is proposing to extend existing selective licensing schemes in the areas of Trinity, Gannow and Queensgate as these are due to end in 2019. As well as this, the council in planning on introducing a new selective licensing scheme in the areas of Daneshouse and Stoneyhome.

The council ran a twelve week consultation on these plans, and invited landlords, residents and other interested parties to share their views in this.

The RLA’s response to the consultation

The RLA has raised a number of concerns with the proposed selective licensing scheme in these areas of Burnley and has also highlighted to the Council alternatives that could be used instead of selective licensing. You can read the draft licensing proposal on the council’s website here, and read the RLA’s response to the consultation on this proposal here.

Licence fees

Landlords in the areas where selective licensing is in place would be expected to pay for a licence in order to let out there property lawfully. Licences also come with a set of conditions which landlords must also adhere to.

In the RLA’s response to this consultation, we argue that licensing schemes do little but alienate law abiding landlords because they are then burdened with additional costs. It is the criminal landlords who would continue to operate without a licence and effectively act ‘below the radar’, as they also ignore other regulations. In the RLA’s view, the high cost of a licence is not something that is affordable for landlords even with discounts being taken into consideration.

Condition that would require property managers to live within 40 minutes of the property

One of the licensing conditions is that the manager of the property must live within 40 minutes of the property.

Relating to this proposed condition, the RLA state that this is excessive and that matters like this should be dealt with AFTER the licence has been granted.

The RLA also points out that many landlords in fact run their businesses without being a 40-minute drive away from the property in question. Because of this, such a condition serves as a ‘barrier’ to good landlords, and the council should remove this condition.

Alternative to selective licensing

Selective licensing is dependent on a designation by the local authority. A local authority may designate the whole of their district or part of their district, subject to selective licensing.

An area may be designated for selective licensing either (i) if the area is (or is likely to be) an area of low housing demand or (ii) the area is experiencing a significant and persistent problem caused by anti social behaviour and some or all of the private sector landlords are failing to take action to combat the problem that it will be appropriate for them to take. A designation can last for five years.

As an alternative to selective licensing, we have set out a number of other methods that Burnley Council could take. This includes using the existing enforcement powers that council’s already have available to them, such as civil penalties and rent repayment orders as a way of tackling landlords in these areas who are not complying with the law.

In addition to this, Burnley Council has access to the Controlling Migration Fund, which allows local authorities to tackle local service pressures associated with any recently increased migration, which includes tackling rogue landlords and driving up standards.

The Government’s selective licensing review

In June, the Government announced that it will be holding a review into selective licensing, and the RLA urge Burnley Council to wait for the outcome of this review, the results of which will be published next Spring, before proceeding with this proposed selective licensing scheme.

What happens next?

The consultation on this selective licensing scheme closed on Monday 26th November, and the Council is currently collating all the responses. The RLA will update members of the progress of this proposed scheme.

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