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Leading landlord association threatens council with legal action over ‘unlawful’ licensing scheme

PUBLISHED: 17:38 05 November 2018

The Residential Landlords Association has threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with legal action over its

The Residential Landlords Association has threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with legal action over its "unlawful" licensing scheme. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

ARCHANT NORFOLK

One of the UK’s leading landlord associations has threatened Great Yarmouth Borough Council with legal action over a licensing scheme which it claims is “unlawful”.

The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has “serious concerns” over the borough council’s selective licensing scheme and has threatened it with a judicial review.

The scheme would see landlords with properties in the north of Nelson ward charged an upfront cost of £600 per property for a five-year license as is required.

Alternatively landlords can choose to pay an upfront fee of £90 and then a monthly fee thereafter of £9.50 plus VAT per month over the five years.

The scheme is being brought in to give the council additional powers to tackle poorly managed privately rented property.

However, last week landlords hit back at the proposals saying the council had identified them as an “easy target” and warned those most deprived will be the ones who suffer.

The RLA, which represents over 30,000 landlords in the UK believes one of the conditions set to be imposed as part of the scheme is unlawful and has written to the council asking for “urgent clarification”.

It believes the council’s plans to make it compulsory for landlords affected to join a ‘landlord support service’ run by a third-party delivery partner are unlawful.

RLA policy director David Smith said: “We are asking for immediate clarification on the council’s position. If our understanding is correct we want the council to reconsider this aspect of the scheme and come up with a lawful alternative.

“If it will not we will move ahead and issue a claim for a judicial review on this basis.”

In a statement, Great Yarmouth Borough Council has clarified that it is not compulsory for landlords to apply for a licence through a delivery partner and they will still have the opportunity to apply directly to the council.

It said: “The selective licensing scheme for parts of Nelson ward aims to improve living conditions and quality of life for private sector tenants, while creating a level playing-field for ethical landlords, by making it harder for unethical landlords to prosper. This was agreed by full council in September following a public consultation.

“The National Landlords Association is also in favour of this important scheme, which would require landlords of most private rented housing to be licensed and meet conditions around health and safety and standards.

“While the council will be encouraging landlords to apply for a licence through a delivery partner, as this will give landlords access to a great range of offers, services, discounts and support, this is not a condition of the approved scheme and all landlords will still have the choice to apply directly to the council.

“The press release from the RLA has arisen through a misunderstanding, and the council is writing to the RLA and other landlord groups to clarify the situation.”

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