Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Local councils are being urged to drop selective landlord licensing schemes following the publication this week of new laws which should make the costly schemes unnecessary.

One of the main reasons that council’s give for introducing these schemes is to identify tenanted properties in their arrears. So the apparently simple solution of asking residents when completing Council Tax forms if they are home owners or tenants, and to provide their landlord’s details, it seems is such a simple solution, one wonder why councils have not thought of it themselves.

Measures in the Government’s new Housing and Planning Bill make clear that local authorities can use council tax registration forms to ask tenants for details of a properties’ tenure – is it owner occupied or a tenancy – and the landlord’s details, to help root out criminal landlords.

The RLA have campaigned hard for this measure to be brought about for some time.

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The Bill also includes powers for local authorities to use information held by statutory tenancy deposit schemes to enforce regulations affecting private rented housing.

The RLA is now calling on councils to drop licensing schemes, given that the Bill makes clear that they can collect the information they need without levying expensive costs on landlords. The costs will inevitably get passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents. The Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP*, has previously dubbed such licensing a “tenants’ tax”.

Commenting on the development, RLA Policy Director, David Smith said:

“The Housing Bill makes clear that landlord licensing schemes are not needed and serve only as a money raising exercise by councils.

“Local authorities now have serious questions to answer. Why are they charging good landlords when they can collect the information they need to drive out criminal landlords using council tax registration forms for free.

“It’s time for councils to think again and bring to an end to the tenants’ tax once and for all.

  • The RLA represents almost 40,000 private sector residential landlords in England and Wales housing some 250,000 households.
  • The Housing and Planning Bill can be found in full at here
  • The explanatory note to go with it is available at here

Clause 87 of the Bill will enable local authorities to use information held by tenancy deposit schemes to enforce regulations affecting the private rented sector contained within the Housing Act 2004.

Clause 88 of the Bill will give the Secretary of State the power to make regulations to outline how councils can use data collected for council tax purposes. The Bill notes that local authorities can already use such data to enforce regulations affecting the private rented sector under the Housing Act 2004.

*Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis MP, dubbed many landlord licensing schemes a “tenants tax” in March 2015. His comments can be read at here

Please Note: This Article is 4 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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