29 Jan 2020
A leading trade body is voicing concern over yet another council private rental sector licensing scheme – with particular worry over the cost of a licence, which in some cases will exceed £1,000.
Swansea’s council want to renew and expand an additional HMO licensing scheme – it already runs over two wards, and the authority wants to extend it to a third.
It is currently consulting on the proposal and the Residential Landlords Association has voiced its opposition – with the high cost of the proposed fee being one reaons, along with the fact that landlords in Swansea already have to pay for an annual Rent Smart Wales licence.
The association argues that many landlords could find themselves in a situation where they are unable to pay a local authority an additional licence fee, as well as the Rent Smart Wales fee.
Swansea council is proposing to charge landlords with rental properties that fall into the scope of additional licensing between £714 and £1020.
The RLA is concerned that this fee is too high, and could lead to landlords having to cover the cost of obtaining a licence by passing this cost onto tenants in the form of increasing rents-doing nothing to address affordability.
Swansea claims that 41 per cent of HMOs in one ward were subject to complaints relating to poor waste management, and 38 per cent were related to noise complaints; these are given as major justifications of the licensing.
However, the RLA claims that these figures are merely typical of a general inner-city area. In addition to this, in the ward where the council is proposing to introduce additional licensing, there are only 12 HMOs.
A statement from the RLA says: “Therefore, there is insufficient need for a scheme here-especially when additional licensing schemes tend to be introduced in localities with hundreds of HMOs.”
The association says that the city council should abandon its licensing proposals and instead use cross-departmental working and effective use of existing housing legislation to support tenants and landlords in maintaining tenancies and housing conditions.
The RLA also advocates using council tax records to identify private rented properties and landlords. Unlike with licensing schemes, this method does not require self-identification by landlords, so it would be harder for criminal landlords to operate under the radar and ignore the scheme – as they do many other regulations.