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

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Alternatives to selective licensing in the private rented sector: a guide for landlords
24/08/2016
3:58 pm
News @ Tenant Referencing
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Following last weeks selective licensing victory for the private rented sector, we are now hearing from landlords all around the country who want to fight against selective licensing being implemented in their area but don't know where to start or how to get the ball rolling.

Sponsored by TR Lettings Online, Tenant Referencing UK led the Somerset Property Network's 2 month campaign. The group raised £12,000 in just 2 weeks to go towards the first stage of a judicial review to try and overturn North Somerset Council's decision in the high court. However on the 19th August NSC officially withdrew their implementation of this licensing scheme, stating that:

'We will not be progressing with the original licensing scheme as we are aware that the Somerset Property Network have challenged this decision, suggesting a number of alternatives.'

Not only does this show the true power of landlords working together with a clear goal, it also sets a precedent for other landlord groups around the country to do the same and challenge their own councils if they are unhappy with the initial licensing consultation.

So if you are serious about standing up to your council, to open up lines of communications for a better way forward for everyone in your area, please have a look at our helpful guide below:

- - - - - - - - - -

1 . Make sure you have a case.

To get an idea of whether you have an actual case, begin with researching previous selective licensing cases; both successful and unsuccessful.

Recent examples;

SUCCESSFUL:
In 2014 Enfield Borough Council's landlord licensing scheme was quashed at the High Court following judicial review.

Called for by landlord Constantinos Regas, the council's scheme would have required landlords to hold a £500 five -year licence from the authority for each property they owned.

Mr Regas was initially only granted the right to proceed on the “additional licensing” element of his case, covering all privately rented shared homes in the borough, and not the “selective licensing” that covers privately rented single households.

But Lord Justice Kim Lewison said a challenge to selective licensing is "arguable" and could be added to the existing judicial review.

The final judgement found that Enfield Council had failed to consult the people who should have been consulted and did not consult for the required time. Enfield Council were also refused permission to appeal against the decision.

UNSUCCESSFUL:
In 2015 a bid to take Rotherham Council to judicial review over selective licensing failed, leaving the landlord group with council costs of £23,128.

Rotherham Action Group's application was dismissed after a judge claimed the council had acted "rationally and proportionately" by deciding to introduce the five-year licence.

A selective licensing designation may be made if the area to which it relates satisfies one or more of the following conditions. The area is one experiencing:

· low housing demand (or is likely to become such an area)
(use tenant-find services and more via TR Online Lettings)

· a significant and persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour
(prevent anti-social behaviour taking place in your property by optimising Tenant Histories, only available at Tenant Referencing UK)

· poor property conditions
(Access free property management reminders at Tenant Referencing UK, to help you stay compliant and keep up-to-date with your property maintenance)

· high levels of migration
(prevent multiple applications by optimising Tenant Histories, only available at Tenant Referencing UK)

· high level of deprivation
(Access free property management reminders at Tenant Referencing UK, to help you stay compliant and keep up-to-date with your property maintenance)

· high levels of crime
(prevent crime by optimising Tenant Histories, only available at Tenant Referencing UK)

If you are not experiencing any of these conditions within your area then you may have a case.

2 . Research Solicitors who have experience in dealing with Selective Licensing Judicial Reviews.

We personally suggest that you contact Arden Chambers. They will be able to assist and advise accordingly.

3 . Use Freedom of Information Requests to support your case.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives you the right to access recorded information held by public sector organisations. Anyone can request information – there are no restrictions on your age, nationality or where you live and you are entitled to a response within 20 works days on receipt of the request.

You can make a FOI request by letter, email or fax.

You should include:

  • your name (however this is not needed if requesting environmental information),
  • a contact address,
  • a detailed description of the information you want, e.g. Somerset Property Network asked for a breakdown of the number of landlords who had received notices of improvement for the period 2014/15 and the action taken, within the proposed selective licencing area of Weston-super-Mare.

So requesting certain information from your local authority can aid your selective licensing case further.

Feel free to use this FOI template:

[INSERT DATE] - to: [INSERT COUNCIL EMAIL ADDRESS]
Freedom of Information (FOI) Request

Dear Sir or Madam,

Under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, please provide me with copies of the following:

[INSERT A DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INFORMATION YOU WANT]

I understand that under the Act I am entitled to a response within 20 working days of your receipt of this request. Some parts of the request may be easier to answer than others. Should this be the case, I request that you release information as soon as possible.
If my request is denied in whole or in part, I ask that you justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions of the act. I will also expect you to release all non-exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal your decision to withhold any information or to charge excessive fees.

I would prefer to receive the information electronically.

If you require any clarification, I expect you to contact me under your section 16 duty to provide advice and assistance if you find any aspect of this FOI request problematic.
Please acknowledge receipt of this request, and I look forward to receiving the information in the near future.

Yours faithfully,

[INSERT YOUR NAME & ADDRESS]

4 . Create a facebook group / contacts list.

To maximise your campaigns exposure and awareness, Facebook remains King of the Social Networks. With over a billion users worldwide, where the average person spends 28% (1.72 hours per day) of his or her time online on social networks Facebook is too huge a platform for campaign groups to ignore.

How to Create a Facebook Group:

  • From your "home page" on Facebook go to the Groups section on the left side menu & find "Add Group".
    (The number of things you have in your Favorites will determine how far down you have to scroll to see this.)
  • Click "Create New Group".
    (You'll be taken to a page that displays the option to create a group as well as showing you some suggested groups to join.)
  • Name Your Group.
  • Add Members.
  • Choose Privacy Setting.
  • Click Create.
  • Choose an Icon.
  • Complete "About" Section.
  • Launch the group and start sharing it.

We also suggest that you create an email address list (e.g. excel sheet / mailchimp.com) for those landlords that don't use Facebook.

5 . Create a petition.

To show that landlords and tenants in your area are united against the licensing scheme, an online petition is the easiest way to prove this.

Click here to have a look at the Somerset Property Network's petition as an example.

Click here to start your petition now: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petition/new?source=header

6 . Organise a landlord meeting & invite your council along.

If your council agrees to attend, ask your group to submit questions that they'd like answered about the licensing scheme.

Be sure to take your attendees contact details at the meeting, e.g. email address and telephone numbers.

7 . Meeting: share ideas, discuss alternatives, unite as one.

8 . Notify local and national press / use social media.

9 . Fund-raise (if your group decides to take the Judicial Review route)

10 . Keep your council updated.

Try to keep your council updated as much as possible, in order to keep lines of communication open.

11 . Keep the momentum going.

Be sure to update your supporters regularly to keep them interested and aware of the cause.

12 . Get in contact!

If you need further help please get in contact with Paul or Samii at Tenant Referencing UK.

- - - - - - - - - -

Related topics:

Landlord group stops local authority going ahead with Selective Licensing

Selective Licensing AKA The Private Rental Sector Snoopers Charter

Judicial reviews explained – Following the recent ruling on Enfield Selective licensing

25/08/2016
2:18 pm
Paul Routledge
Admin
Forum Posts: 3415
Member Since:
20/05/2011
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Those who are apathetic about Selective Licensing have a look at this Bristol Selective Licensing Application Form, as THIS is the information that you must provide the council PER PROPERTY:

CLICK HERE TO SEE

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