Council tells LandlordZONE that it can no longer subsidise the costs of the scheme, as it raises average cost of licence application to £1,300 per property.
Camden Council has gone into PR overdrive as it bids to renew its additional HMO licensing scheme for another five years.
However, a steep rise in the cost for licensing a rented property in the London borough would see landlords having to fork out £1,300 per licence application, which the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) warns is excessively high and could lead to increased rents as landlords try to recover their costs.
Currently, Camden’s fees are £750 for a standard application fee, plus £60 for each room/studio used for sleeping.
The council says its landlord licensing scheme has seen more than 3,100 houses in multiple occupation inspected and licensed, resulting in an estimated 15,000 improvements made by landlords.
And it says accredited landlords will get a £100 discount. “Benchmarking exercises have shown our current fee to be below average when compared to other London boroughs even though we carry out a full survey of all properties before we license them – not many local authorities do this,” a spokesperson says.
“We have been subsidising the costs of the licensing scheme to date, and so to cover all the costs associated with the new scheme the fee will have to be increased.”
On a visit to meet happy tenants and a landlord, councillor Meric Apak, cabinet member for Better Homes, heard how a property on Camden High Street (pictured) was previously rented through a rogue ‘rent to rent’ agency, had improperly partitioned rooms, no working heat or fire detectors, poorly fitted electrical wiring, cracked windows and a bathroom with no ventilation.
Since the council’s inspection, landlord Anas Ahmed has taken back control of the property and made all the improvements. Mr Ahmed says: “This HMO scheme is very good. It may have some financial impact but in the broader picture there are people’s lives involved in it. We didn’t want to take a risk; a small accident can lead to a big disaster.”
Councillor Apak adds: “Our initial research estimated that there were up to 8,000 HMOs in Camden, a significant number of those remain illegally unlicensed.
“Renewing the scheme for another five years will allow us to continue striving towards making all homes in Camden safe, correctly managed and properly maintained.”
Rather than renew this scheme, the RLA wants to see the council make the most of its existing powers to root out criminal landlords, including civil penalties and rent repayment orders.
The council consultation is open until Sunday (8 March).