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'Discriminatory' HMO licensing scheme rules slammed by landlords

Two out of three HMO landlords in Portsmouth plan to call it quits this year, largely prompted by the launch of an additional licensing scheme in September.

Portsmouth & District Private Landlords Association's survey found that this would mean a loss of 348 rooms which, extrapolated to the city's whole market, could easily see 1,000 fewer homes by the end of the year.

Members cited the new scheme as the main reason for leaving (57%), along with the abolition of Section 21 (37%), tax treatment of landlords (32%), and other government changes (20%).

According to chairman Martin Silman (inset, main picture), the standards and enforcement policies for all HMOs in the city have been rewritten, with many small, incremental changes.

Thousands of pounds

'This means that many properties that were fine when they were last licensed and which would be fine today in Southampton or Brighton, will need many thousands of pounds to be spent in order to meet the heightened local Portsmouth standards,'� he says.

Portsmouth landlords have been feeling the pinch for some time; many have been referred to the Valuation Office Agency to have their council tax bands reassessed, while some risk losing their C3/C4 status with no chance of getting it back due to confusion over planning rules.

Net effect

Adds Silman: 'Sadly, the PDPLA considers that the net effect of all of these actions by the Lib Dem-led Portsmouth City Council is that it will discriminate against single low-income workers and students from modest backgrounds, driving them from perfectly acceptable and affordable homes in the city.'�

One landlord explains: 'With income falling, costs rising and a squeeze on tax in the middle, I have come to a decision and will sell property this year, thus removing reasonably-priced student rental rooms from the marketplace.'�

Earlier this week, LandlordZONE reported how England's HMO market has shrunk by more than 21,000 properties in the last two years as local councils ramp up planning rules and licensing schemes.


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