Ill-thought-out legislation continues to criminalise innocent people | Discuss

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Ill-thought-out legislation continues to criminalise innocent people
13/02/2017
5:06 pm
News @ Tenant Referencing
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On a day where it's been announced that the newly implemented Right to Rent legislation is not working, two landlords at opposite ends of the country have contacted the TR Group about the impact selective licensing is having on them.

Selective licensing means that private landlords are required to obtain a licence allowing them to rent properties within their area, aiming to address poor quality landlords and anti-social tenants.

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell MP is a well-known critic of local authority licensing schemes governing the PRS, but this year alone has already seen consultations popping up right across the country; Sefton (Merseyside), Hyndburn (Lancashire), Barrow (Cumbria), Nottingham and Bournemouth to name but a few.

Landlords are beginning to fight back though;

  • A back bench revolt recently forced Fenland Council to abandon its plan to bring in a selective licensing scheme in Wisbech, which would have seen 2,400 rented homes brought under new controls.
  • The Somerset Property Network set a precedent by stopping North Somerset Council from going ahead with their licensing plans last summer, and are now working with the local authority through the newly created landlord accreditation National Landlords Code of Excellence Ltd (NLCE UK).

Increased interest in licensing appears to be directly linked to the growth of the sector (now the second largest tenure in England), where local authorities are now realising the money they can generate through landlord licensing; even though central government prefer voluntary accreditation schemes to be implemented.

The following (live) cases will give you an insight into the unintended consequences that this legislation is creating for hard working, innocent people:

John B - North Ormesby, Middlesbrough:

'As a landlord of 16 (well kept) buy-to-let properties in North Ormesby, I'm up in court tomorrow for failing to pay for my licence. 

We received a letter in August/September 2015 about it being rolled out from January 2016, but when the deadline came around it coincided with a 13k tax bill so I couldn't afford to pay the extra £9,280 licensing fee on top of that (£580 per property). So I called the council and explained my situation, who told me that if I didn't pay the full amount by the 31st January that I would be fined £100 per house.
I tried to explain that I couldn't because I didn't have the funds available what with the 13k tax bill; that I wasn't trying to avoid it but that I physically couldn't afford to just pluck 9k out of the air; especially as my properties have never experienced any anti-social behaviour issues or repair orders.
When I was told that this didn't matter, I asked if it was possible to set up a payment plan and was told in no uncertain terms that the council is not a finance company and must collect what is owed in full.

I've been to a solicitor but he says this is not a defence, using the analogy 'It's like if you've got a car on your drive, no money to tax it but you still need to drive it; then you've still got to tax it.' But it's not the same situation though, is it?! When you buy a car you know you have to tax it, but when I bought the properties no-one told me about selective licensing...

Middlesbrough tried this before in the TS1 area in 2008/09 I believe. And just 2 years later it was scrapped and no-one got their money back.

The Inland Revenue would be willing to set up a payment plan, but the council "cannot"...

As a local landlord and property developer, this is my main source of income. All I'm trying to do is provide for my family for a decent life.'

Jon M - Hastings:

'I am a Landlord with two properties that fall within the Selective Licensing areas of Hastings, East Sussex.
 
Both of my properties are very well kept, meet all regulations with regard to fire safety, have no repair issues. I manage both of them myself and have a good communicative relationship with both of my tenants.
 
I have never had an issue with anti-social behaviour from either of the tenants.
 
Hastings Council are accusing me of being an irresponsible Landlord if I do not give them £440 per property within 30 days. They say they offer support and education for the money, however, other Landlords who have paid the fee have not received anything of the sort.
 
This is an outrage and a completely embarrassing attempt at controlling the ASB situation. The Council will no doubt spend more time and money chasing innocent Landlords for money, rather than supporting those within our community that need help.
 
I'm sure that the Landlord will be to blame again come assessment time of the schemes failure.'

The impact selective licensing is having on tenants - click here to read on ...

Proactive landlords around the UK are preventing anti-social behaviour from taking place within their properties by properly referencing their applicants through the concept of Tenant Histories.

The National Landlords Code of Excellence Ltd also offers a free anti social behaviour reporting system for private renters; removing the fear of retaliation from whoever they are reporting, as well as taking the lengthy process away from local authorities. As well as a free property maintenance and repair reporting facility, to help tackle the age-old problem of maintenance/repair issues between tenants and their landlords.

These mechanisms negate the need for ineffective landlord licensing - enabling better relationships between landlords and their tenants, improving property standards and providing safer communities for all.

  • Have you been affected by selective licensing? Please tell us your story below!

Related topics:

Alternatives to selective licensing in the private rented sector: a guide for landlords

17/02/2017
1:55 pm
JonB
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It was adjourned because the district judge who deals with unlimited fines was sick so it's put back 2 weeks.

18/02/2017
4:49 pm
VanceHarvey
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 I have 3 houses in Sutton in Ashfield, north Notts, which is in the area of Ashfield DC; they have just brought in selective licensing at a hit of £380 for 5 years.

My take on selective licensing is that the councils are akin to the Mafia, charging Mob Money to 'protect' ones properties, as we all know that the LL receives Nothing in return; infact I think the term 'Mob Money' is a good exchange for 'selective licensing' and I may mention this to Ashfield DC when I call them next week to sort out queries on the c26pps of forms we have to fill in.

I self manage and get on well with all my tenants, one of whom is semi invalided, but this extra cost, coupled with the increased taxes of Clause 24, and the fact that I shortly have to re-mortgage which will probably increase my mortgages costs pcm, start to suggest that maybe I should sell the houses and invest the proceeds into stock and shares which could make me more than I make from being a LL.
This would then throw 3 families, one with young children, onto the streets, and as they are all on LHA, the council would then be responsible for re-housing them!!

18/02/2017
5:11 pm
David Price
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VanceHarvey said
I shortly have to re-mortgage which will probably increase my mortgages costs pcm

This may be true but at the same time when re-mortgaging why not consider incorporating as this will eliminate the impact of section 24?  Running a limited company is easy and there are many advantages beyond the obvious tax incentive.

18/02/2017
5:37 pm
VanceHarvey
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Thanks David for the suggestion, and in fact I do have a Ltd company for other aspects of business that I run, like exporting books around the world; but you know, I really can't be bothered with all the work and cost that this would entail. I have friends who are doing it and I've read up on what is needed, but I may start to sell off 1 house a year so I don't have too much of a CGT bill - as are a number of my property colleagues.

Besides the houses I own I also have a number of houses & flats on options and as the monthly payments are classed as rent, there is no impact with clause 24, so will keep those - at least until the local authority decides to bring in Mob Money there as well, then will consider the efficacy of continuing with them. 

28/02/2017
11:12 am
JonB
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http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/n.....651186.amp

I'm not sure what to do now - I'm stuck in limbo! Suggestions welcome ?? Yell

28/02/2017
2:51 pm
Jo Chapman
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I had 6 houses in South West Ward Gainsborough where selective licensing was brought in on 18th October 2016. One of them came empty in September so I put it straight on the market, trouble is, the market has been swamped with landlords getting rid. After an initial valuation of 65K, I have accepted 48K just to be rid of it. The buyer is a landlord from Dorset who is buying up cheap housing in the area, some prices for a 3 bed terrace are as low as 30K, thankfully mine is on a slightly better street. Reading the terms and conditions of the license I am also ultimately responsible for the state of my tenants front and back gardens/yards, I have to keep them clean and tidy and free from waste!!! This is just another tax on landlords and will achieve nothing.

28/02/2017
7:07 pm
PaulBarrett
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Jo Chapman said
I had 6 houses in South West Ward Gainsborough where selective licensing was brought in on 18th October 2016. One of them came empty in September so I put it straight on the market, trouble is, the market has been swamped with landlords getting rid. After an initial valuation of 65K, I have accepted 48K just to be rid of it. The buyer is a landlord from Dorset who is buying up cheap housing in the area, some prices for a 3 bed terrace are as low as 30K, thankfully mine is on a slightly better street. Reading the terms and conditions of the license I am also ultimately responsible for the state of my tenants front and back gardens/yards, I have to keep them clean and tidy and free from waste!!! This is just another tax on landlords and will achieve nothing.

Ahh!!

So now you will be entering the business waste removal business!

You will need a waste carrier licence.

Failure to remove waste deposited by your feckless tenants could result in you losing your LL licence

Imagine just one bed dumped by your tenant could put you out of business!

Or any rubbish dumped on your property!

Might even bankrupt you if your licence to operate is withdrawn.

28/02/2017
7:34 pm
Landlord Geoff
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@jonB

I take it that you are the guy in the newspaper report. It is difficult to answer your question "what do I do now", because your situation is uniquely specific to your individual circumstances and all the circumstances of the case, and you have admitted the offence.

Unfortunately, however, you, and others (including Jo Chapman) are the victims of the accumulation of several factors: Bad landlords, changes to housing benefit payments and levels, anti-social behaviour, lack of policing & sentencing, changes to social benefits, lack of local authority housing and funding, political & media campaigns against landlords per se.

For many years councils have had powers to deal with rogue landlords but in many areas they have not done so because they would then have the responsibility to house the resultant homeless tenants. So what they are doing now in your area and around the country is dealing with the issues with landlords money. 

You have taken legal advice, so you know where you stand. I hope for your sake that the judge shows some sense when deciding your fate, and that you presented good mitigating evidence.

I would have thought that either the RLA or NLA would have done a high profile campaign and support a legal challenge on Selective Licencing like they did with the Council Tax case in Leeds.

Full time experienced landlord & property investment mentor in West Yorkshire.

http://www.landlordgeoff.co.uk

28/02/2017
10:09 pm
Jo Chapman
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PaulBarrett said

Jo Chapman said
I had 6 houses in South West Ward Gainsborough where selective licensing was brought in on 18th October 2016. One of them came empty in September so I put it straight on the market, trouble is, the market has been swamped with landlords getting rid. After an initial valuation of 65K, I have accepted 48K just to be rid of it. The buyer is a landlord from Dorset who is buying up cheap housing in the area, some prices for a 3 bed terrace are as low as 30K, thankfully mine is on a slightly better street. Reading the terms and conditions of the license I am also ultimately responsible for the state of my tenants front and back gardens/yards, I have to keep them clean and tidy and free from waste!!! This is just another tax on landlords and will achieve nothing.

Ahh!!

So now you will be entering the business waste removal business!

You will need a waste carrier licence.

Failure to remove waste deposited by your feckless tenants could result in you losing your LL licence

Imagine just one bed dumped by your tenant could put you out of business!

Or any rubbish dumped on your property!

Might even bankrupt you if your licence to operate is withdrawn.

Love your posts Paul. I do have a waste carriers license, it goes with the territory. 

01/03/2017
9:42 am
Paul Routledge
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JonB said
http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/n.....651186.amp

I'm not sure what to do now - I'm stuck in limbo! Suggestions welcome ?? Yell

That article in the gazette is the biggest load of bias b***** I have ever read! It implies that you and all other landlords are rogues and does not address the fact that you're innocent of the charge that you're being criminalized for and that you're a 'rogue landlord.' A totally bias and unbalanced article written by yet another media spin attempt to blame landlords for every social failure in our communities ... aaaaagh!!Yell

14/03/2017
4:57 pm
JonB
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So I'm in court next Tuesday on 12 charges for no selective license. Does anyone have any links they can provide me with of similar cases that have been overturned please?

15/03/2017
10:53 am
SamiiB
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29/03/2017
4:20 pm
Amy
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VanceHarvey said
Thanks David for the suggestion, and in fact I do have a Ltd company for other aspects of business that I run, like exporting books around the world; but you know, I really can't be bothered with all the work and cost that this would entail. I have friends who are doing it and I've read up on what is needed, but I may start to sell off 1 house a year so I don't have too much of a CGT bill - as are a number of my property colleagues.

Besides the houses I own I also have a number of houses & flats on options and as the monthly payments are classed as rent, there is no impact with clause 24, so will keep those - at least until the local authority decides to bring in Mob Money there as well, then will consider the efficacy of continuing with them.   

Excuse my ignorance

What is 'houses & flats on options' ?

29/03/2017
4:28 pm
Amy
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SamiiB said
Morning Jon, (so far) this is the only story I can find (although this was concerning two btl properties, not 12) Prosecution - but no fine - over unlicensed buy to let properties

https://www.lettingagenttoday.co.uk/breaking-news/2016/10/prosecution--but-no-fine--after-failure-to-licence-buy-to-let-properties  

Silly idea i know !! 🙂

Is it ever possible to show a judge in court the difference via photos of a property with a landlord who doesnt give a toss and your well kept properties and present the case of how ill thought out the scheme is and how it will affect your tenants. 

Or may be even character references from your own tenants or even writing to councilors and politicians explaining the difference between the LL that need licenses and those that do not???? . I use 'write to your councillor' and one of my ideas was discussed in parliament

I find judges are painfully out of touch with whats going on

29/03/2017
4:35 pm
Amy
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