CITY LANDLORDS REACT TO NEW HMO LICENSING SCHEME
The Nottingham Post has provided extensive coverage of Nottingham City Council's proposal to implement a scheme for additional licensing of HMOs in parts of the City. (see, for example Complaints Over Housing Policy, City Landlords Slam 'Discriminatory' Bid for Council Licences).
The most recent coverage was two reports by the Post's Alexander Britton, one prior to the Executive Board meeting at which the decision was taken to implement the scheme (Additional Licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation in Nottingham), and one shortly afterwards.
The reportage also appears on the Nottingham Post's website (http://www.nottinghampost.com), where on-line comments from the general public have also been logged.
LANDLORDS AND CITY COUNCIL CLASH AGAIN OVER RENTAL SCHEME
Landlords have hit out at council plans to start a controversial housing policy, claiming it will lead to rents rising.
Nottingham City Council is looking at increasing the number of areas where landlords have to apply for a licence for a house to be turned into a house of multiple occupation (HMO).
The scheme would come into force on January 1, 2014 and run for five years if it goes ahead. Landlords would pay a one-off fee of £910 for the five years, reduced by £115 for landlords already accredited to existing approved schemes.
The proposals will be looked at next Tuesday and would affect around 3,200 HMOs in parts of the city, including Lenton, Radford, Arboretum, Hyson Green, Sneinton and The Meadows.
An HMO is a privately rented property where groups of unrelated people or several different households live.
The council says the plans would improve the standard of housing in the city.
But landlord Shad Ali, of the Arboretum, said this wasn't the case and landlords – who have written an open letter to the council about the issue (see Page 18 of today's Post) – would pass on costs to residents.
He said: "I've spoken to numerous landlords who have all said they will have to pass on the costs of licences during the downturn. The margins landlords get are smaller and smaller. Paying more than £900 for a licence and absorbing it isn't an option.
"There are bad landlords in the city but the majority are good. Having a licensing scheme that will cause extra paperwork to all landlords and costs to tenants isn't the way to root out bad landlords. Also, I think this policy will result in the displacement of people.
"Three people is the threshold for HMOs, so people will just rent to three or fewer people to avoid getting the licence."
Mr Ali also questioned the impact on ethnic minority groups in the city, saying the Pakistani population would suffer more as it owned a large number of properties.
The council is not allowed to make a profit from the licensing scheme and the fees would only contribute to its running costs of just under £950,000 a year.
The council has said 65 per cent of online contributions and half of written submissions – including both universities – support the scheme.
Hyson Green resident Paul King, 26, was in favour of tighter regulation of landlords but not at the cost of increasing rents.
He said: "You do hear some horror stories about landlords and bad houses, so it's probably for the best that the council have some sort of power to stop that. But I don't think I could find another £300 for rent, and I'm sure my two flat-mates couldn't either."
Councillor Dave Liversidge , portfolio holder for commissioning and voluntary sector, said: "Private landlords have a duty to provide decent standards for tenants. When they fail to do so, the council has to spend time and money taking action. A licensing scheme would allow a more proactive approach to ensuring houses in multiple occupation in Nottingham are of acceptable standard and to work with landlords to inform them about good practice.
"With an average weekly rent for a three-bedroomed house in Nottingham of £126, the one-off fee for five years is affordable to landlords without passing it on in increased rent to tenants. We hope it will prompt landlords to take action themselves and less enforcement will be needed."
[Alexander Britton, Nottingham Post, Friday, 13 September 2013]
Steve Basford: “I dont see how this will change anything other than drive up rents. The council already has the obligation & power to act against substandard housing. Is this simply just a charge for carrying out their statutory duty? Is a landlord going to suddenly do lots of work to a property because of this, especially after having to fork out a grand? I sense an own goal coming on here....”
Bpositive: “A bargain! £900 for 5 years to run a business. It just over £3 a week. About time HMO landlords realised that they are runing a business - housing people isnt a game or a hobby. The provate rented housing stock needs to be safe and maintained and I think the Council plan will move things in that direction. Seems fair to me.”
LANDLORDS' ANGER OVER NEW LICENCES
Angry landlords confronted councillors in the city as a controversial licensing scheme was given the green light.
The plans will see an increase in the number of areas where landlords have to apply for a licence for a house to be turned into a "house of multiple occupation" (HMO), or shared house.
The idea is to regulate landlords and control the number of shared houses in the city.
But the move has angered landlords, who say the licence charges will see rents rise and will not solve the problem of bad landlords.
Two Community Protection Officers were also on standby at Loxley House on Station Street outside the heated meeting.
Throughout the discussion of the plans, members of the public heckled, shouting "you have let down the Asian community" and "you will never get elected in this city again".
There was also controversy as a number of landlords said they weren't allowed to enter the meeting room at the start of the debate.
These people were eventually let in and the debate restarted.
Councillor Dave Liversidge told the room that the idea was to make sure quality housing was provided for all people in the city.
He said: "We do what we can to provide decent social housing and we are extending this into the private sector through this licensing scheme.
"Good landlords have nothing to worry about and the charges are affordable to landlords without increasing the cost of rents."
Council leader Jon Collins added that the scheme was "reasonable."
He said: "The council has spoken widely to people about their thoughts on the scheme and twice as many respondents were in favour of the proposal than were against it."
The scheme was agreed and will come into force on January 1, 2014, and run for five years.
Landlords would pay a one-off fee of £910 for the five years, reduced by £115 for landlords already accredited to existing approved schemes.
The plans will affect around 3,200 houses of multiple occupation in parts of the city, including Lenton, Radford, Arboretum, Hyson Green, Sneinton and The Meadows.
But outside the meeting, landlords were angry with the council for voting the policy through.
Among them was Shad Ali, of the Arboretum, who said the fight against the mandatory licensing would continue.
He said: "We are setting up a fighting fund against these plans. The council hasn't listened to the landlords who are against these plans.
"They say that people were in favour of the plans, but only 650-odd actually responded. As a proportion of all the people in the city, that's nothing."
[Alexander Britton, Nottingham Post, Wednesday, 18 September 2013]