A scheme which would have forced all Enfield landlords to hold licences to operate their rental properties has been quashed by the High Court.
Enfield Council had approved plans to impose the licences on landlords in a bid to curb anti-social behaviour among tenants. An online poll run by the Enfield Independent Newspaper found that 67 per cent of readers believed the measures are a good idea, though it was opposed by landlords in the borough.
However, a judicial review brought by landlord Constantinos Regas challenging Enfield Borough Council’s proposed licensing scheme was Friday upheld by the High Court.
The council’s scheme, which mirrors others brought in by a handful of councils nationwide, would have required landlords to hold a £500 five-year licence from the authority for each property they owned. Some councils have been charging landlords as much as £800 per property in similar schemes.
Landlord not registering for the scheme would have been liable to a fine of up to £20,000 and a criminal record, with any breach of licence conditions carrying a £5,000 fine.
According to reports in the Enfield Independent Newspaper the scheme to commence in April 2015 but a judge in the case found that Enfield Borough Council had not carried out adequate consultation on the scheme.
Mr Regas was initially granted the right to proceed on the “additional licensing” element of his case, which covers all privately rented shared homes in the borough, and applies to smaller Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), not the “selective licensing” scheme that covers privately rented single households.
However, Lord Justice Kim Lewison said it was “arguable” that a challenge to the Borough’s selective licensing scheme could be added to the existing judicial review. Issuing judgement Friday, Judge McKenna found that Enfield Council had failed to consult the people who should have been consulted and did not comply with the times requirements of the scheme’s implementation. The judge further ruled out any appeal by Enfield Council against his decision.
Mr Regas had said:
“I have always maintained my view that good housing standards are a human right. But Enfield Council have not gone about this the right way. They have accused tenants of being anti-social and have sought to criminalise landlords for tenants’ behaviour. The council have now been found to have been acting unlawfully.
“The council’s cabinet and senior officers have demonised tenants, defiled democracy and disgraced themselves. They threw good money after bad in defending this case, despite me putting them on notice in June that they were not acting properly. The citizens of Enfield should welcome the resignations of the entire cabinet and senior officers.”
Update – 16 December 2014
Enfield Council has now said it will appeal against the High Court’s decision to quash its additional and selective licensing scheme. This ruling was the first victory for landlords in all the recent sagas of local authority licensing initiatives.