Changes to how the private rented sector in Leicester is governed has been proposed by Castle Ward Councillor, Patrick Kitterick. Namely, the introduction of selective licensing in Leicester. The planned licensing is part of a plan to reduce the number of dangerous and sub-standard homes in the city.
If you own buy to let in Leicester you need to be aware of this new scheme.
Councillor Patrick Kitterick
Under the scheme, rogue private landlords could be barred from renting out their properties in Leicester through the planned selective licensing scheme. This is big news for a quarter of the 135’000 homes in the city which are privately rented of which, a large number of dangerous or sub-par living conditions, overcrowding or other unethical behaviours which shouldn’t be tolerated that has plagues these homes.
This scheme does not apply to rogue social landlords, including Leicester City Council who reportedly let a property where the shower floods with every use, the toilet doesn’t flush and the sink doesn’t drain with leaking radiators to a disabled tenant after the previous tenant, a dementia sufferer, endured the same state of disrepair until they died.
Full details of the scheme haven’t yet been drawn up but the assistant mayor and housing Councillor, Andy Connelly, has confirmed the Leicester City Council’s intention to apply to the Government to implement the regime which is expected to cost landlords upwards of £650 for a five-year license. Nottingham City Council has already implemented such schemes in August 2017 and tenants are expected to see an increase of upwards of £60 per month to their current cost of rent to help landlords absorb the cost, the cost translates into £2 per week excluding void periods but as landlords seek to recoup their losses in the short term, these fees are passed onto tenants with high premiums. Licenses would only be granted to applicants who are deemed to be ‘fit and proper‘ by the council.
It could be similar to one that came into force in Nottingham in August 2017, where a licence to rent out a property costs £2 per week (excluding void periods) and will only be granted if the applicant is deemed to be ‘a fit and proper person’ by the council. Licences could be rejected if homes were not maintained to certain standards, if they were not insured or if the applicants had a criminal record. Licenses may also be repealed if standards slip.
Patrick Kitterick highlighted the case of a resident he referred to as Mr I. Mr I rented a room that was shared with his 12-year-old daughter in a cramped home owned by a private landlord. Mr I complained to Leicester City Council about cramped living conditions which he would have accepted and been happy with when he viewed the property and signed the tenancy agreement… however, the complaint prompted the local authority to launch an inspection.
The council found an “extensive lack of fire prevention in his property, a lack of smoke alarms and a lack of adequate escape in the event of a fire,” according to Kitterick, which was far beyond the scope of “cramped conditions”. The lack of fire safety and smoke alarms was against the law and it was a good thing the property was inspected though we feel it is unfair for the tenant to complain about cramped conditions when they were happy to move into the property in the same cramped conditions before raising a complaint with the local authority.
With that being said, there were five households consisting of nine individuals with no notification as to whether or not the house in multiple occupation was compliant with HMO licensing rules. There was mould in the kitchen and food store and the kitchen ceiling tiles may have been made of asbestos. The tenant had every right to complain about the health and safety hazards in the property and the landlord took immediate action to remedy the situation
Councillor Kitterick of Castle Ward states “This case is shocking but not unique… if these breaches had been found in a chicken shop we would close that shop down!”
He said Nottingham City Council had brought in a selective scheme covering certain parts of the city. As a result, this has priced the lowest income areas out of the most deprived areas of Nottingham increasing levels of homelessness and the burden on social housing providers to house these individuals who were made homeless as a result of increased rent.
There is a lot of work to do and no news has been released as to when the planned licensing scheme will come into force, however, Leicester landlords should expect to see changes before the year 2020, we believe.
There are ways to avoid the planned licensing, however, including using Harry Albert Lettings & Estates’ short-term lettings service which circumvents much of the traditional landlord legislation that is pricing smaller private landlords out of the private rented sector.