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Plans to expand selective licensing in Brent placed on hold after government withhold approval

Thursday, February 27, 2020 - Brent Council

Following a public consultation in Summer 2019, Brent Council’s Cabinet approved plans to renew their borough wide additional licensing scheme, renew their selective licensing scheme in Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central wards and implement three new selective licensing schemes covering other parts of the borough (read here).

Implementation of these licensing schemes involved a two phased approach. The first phase involved implementing a new borough wide additional licensing scheme. That scheme, covering all HMOs, came into force on 1 February 2020.

The second phase focused on selective licensing. The council wanted to renew the scheme covering the Harlesden, Willesden Green and Wembley Central wards that ended on 31 December 2019. They also wanted to implement three new selective licensing areas covering a further ten council wards:

  • Queensbury, Fryent and Brondesbury Park
  • Barnhill and Welsh Harp
  • Northwick Park, Preston, Toyngton, Alperton and Sudbury

Under changes introduced in 2015, Brent Council could not introduce new selective licensing schemes covering more than 20% of the borough without obtaining government approval (read here).

With another selective licensing scheme covering Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queen's Park wards that continues until 2023, government approval was needed to introduce any new or replacement schemes.

In late 2019, Brent Council submitted a selective licensing application to government to seek approval, and had been awaiting the outcome.

Government are not minded to extend Brent's selective licensing scheme

Earlier today (27 February), Brent Council announced that the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, has said at this time, he is not minded to approve Brent's application to extend selective licensing in the wards of Willesden Green, Harlesden and Wembley Central.

The government has also informed Brent Council that more evidence would be required before any approval could be secured to extend selective licensing to another ten wards in the borough.

The council have said they are currently working with the government to understand what additional evidence is required to help inform the next steps, including whether any revised proposal may be submitted.

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Brent Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said:

"Naturally we're disappointed not to have gotten this done at the first attempt and frustrated at this setback in our aims to improve safety and drive up housing standards for the borough's private tenants. If the Government need to see more evidence then that's exactly what we'll do. We know that licensing works and that it benefits everyone: tenants, landlords and neighbourhoods."

In the meantime, Brent Council have said their work to ensure the safety of tenants and drive up housing standards in the private rented sector will continue, while they gather more evidence to try and extend selective licensing in the borough.

According to the council, property licensing has enabled the council to work in partnership with good landlords by offering training and recognition programmes. More than 900 Brent landlords have successfully joined the London Landlord's Accreditation Scheme so far. The council also offers grants for renovating empty properties and organises one of the biggest council-run landlord forums in the country twice per year.

The council has an active enforcement team tackling rogue and criminal landlords, helping to drive up housing standards in the private rented sector for the significant and growing number of residents who rent privately.

In the meantime, London Property Licensing is reminding landlords and agents that selective licensing remains in force for all private rented homes in the council wards of Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury and Queens Park. All HMOs also require licensing under the council’s borough wide additional licensing scheme.

Flurry of selective licensing announcements

The latest developments in Brent form part of a flurry of activity on new selective licensing schemes since the last general election.

In January 2020, Liverpool City Council announced the government had rejected plans to renew their citywide selective licensing scheme (read here). It is understood a new scheme proposal will now be developed.

Waltham Forest Council were more successful and obtained approval to renew their selective licensing scheme covering most of the borough, starting 1 May 2020 (read here).

Further decisions are awaited on proposed selective licensing schemes in Enfield and Lewisham. Meanwhile, Croydon are consulting on proposals for selective licensing covering either all or 97% of private rented homes.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing in the London Borough of Brent is available here.

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