Somerset Property Network to take North Somerset Council to judicial review
CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO PHASE 1 OF THE NORTH SOMERSET SELECTIVE LICENSING JUDICIAL REVIEW – TENANTS AND LANDLORDS UNITE.
Following just one month of campaigning, the first Somerset Property Network meeting was held last night for local landlords affected by the Weston-super-Mare selective licensing scheme; concluding that the next step must now be to go to a Judicial Review to try and overturn the decision by North Somerset Council.
The meeting was extremely well received, with 80 buy-to-let investors in attendance to discuss their collective belief that the process of the initial licensing consultation was perfunctory and unnecessary. This is double the amount of landlords who took part in the initial NSC consultation.
Christian Louka and Robert Carter from Mydeposits also presented an informative talk and Q & A session on how to protect tenancy deposits and dealing with deposit disputes, which was warmly received.
51 landlords from the Central and Hillside wards of Weston-super-Mare, who are directly affected by this proposal, attended; representing 187 properties in the selective licencing area. This equates to 16.7% of the total dwellings affected within the selective licencing area. (1,119 dwellings ‘potentially’ affected, according to the consultation paper.)
29 North Somerset landlords attended who were not in the selective licencing area, but were deeply concerned about the way North Somerset Council have handled the private rented sector over the last 39 years and want action taken before they are also affected with extra, unnecessary housing legislation.
In total, the landlord attendees represented just over 700 North Somerset private rented properties. (some landlords did not wish to disclose the amount of properties they own)
Independent North Somerset Councillor Derek Mead was one of the many landlords who attended, pledging his support to get this decision overturned. And one member even flew in from Germany especially!
Due to come in this November, altogether 151 people or organisations responded to the initial consultation; 66% were individuals, 27% were landlords and 7% were organisations.
It’s interesting to note that a show of hands at the meeting revealed that 25% of landlords in the selective licensing area had no idea about this scheme being implemented until the Somerset Property Network campaign came about; just 31 days ago.
One of the event organisers, Paul Routledge; who has 44 self contained flats within the selective licencing area, has spent over £600,000 in refurbishments over the last 5 years and has even been used by NSC to show other councils how areas can be improved by good landlords – but must now pay £14,080 in selective licencing fees, said: ‘It’s important to understand that our groups objective is not to fight North Somerset Council but to work with them to create a better private rented sector for all parties involved.’
Paul added: ‘For instance, all of my tenants have signed a petition to say they do not need to be selectively licensed and that they are comfortable with their homes. They do not want their rents raised, as suggested by Mr Mark Hughes, and we do not believe that selective licensing will do the job and that it’ll simply drive a wedge between landlords and their tenants.
It’s a shame that NSC refused our invitation to attend and answer important questions that landlords have about the selective licencing scheme. I think they could have learned a thing or two about constructive debate and the value of listening to the very people who are going to be affected by this scheme.
Gerry Laws (Chair of NSC Private Sector Housing Forum) made an extremely good point at the end of the evening, warning that the licencing of Weston-super-Mare’s Central and Hillside wards are only the tip of the iceberg; so if you’re a landlord who thinks you’re unaffected because you’re not in this area of licencing you’re wrong. So, in essence, if this licencing is allowed to go ahead then it won’t be long before your properties are affected too.
I have contacted the solicitors today and with the help of Councillor Derek Mead we will get the costs and time scales for judicial review sorted out in the next couple of weeks. I’m also in the process of organising a meeting with John Penrose too.
Thank you to all those who attended, all we need now is for the whole group to pass the word and get more on board. The more we do the more we will get done and the more people will hear about us and join our campaign.
United we stand, divided we fall.’
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