Angry landlords are considering a legal challenge against a council imposing an ‘unjustified’ licensing scheme.
The property investors are to vote on taking Bath and North East Somerset Council to court over the proposal to introduce licensing of 1,400 shared homes in several city neighbourhoods that are mainly home to university students.
The council is set to start the scheme from January 1, 2014, following a consultation.
Landlords must pay £500 to licence each home – and face fines of up to £20,000 for breaching the scheme.
The council argues licensing homes shared by three or more unrelated tenants will raise standards in the city and force private landlords to provide better homes.
National Landlords Association for Wessex members argue the scheme is unwarranted as the group already has a landlord accreditation scheme.
“The council has not justified bringing in additional licensing,” said chairman Rob Crawford. “If
Imposed, the scheme will generate an unnecessary additional legislative burden, risk and cost to landlords.
“This is likely to result in nothing more than increased rents, higher cases of tenant eviction and landlord convictions. Additional licensing, and the additional risks it brings, is likely to discourage landlords from investing in properties in the area. As a consequence this is likely to result in the devaluation of affected properties.”
The council has also taken action to limit the number of new shared homes in the city.
New powers ban opening a new shared house for three or more tenants without first receiving planning permission.
An additional condition prohibits new shared houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) if more than 25% of homes in a 100 metre radius are already HMOs.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth Council, Dorset, has successfully prosecuted the first HMO landlord in the town.
Raymond Watton was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £800 costs and a £20 victim surcharge after admitting 10 HMO management offences to magistrates. The council brought the charges after complaints from tenants about the state of their home.