Brent Council to seek government approval for borough wide selective licensing
Landlords could soon be required to license all their rented properties in Brent if the government approves plans for a new licensing scheme.
On 19 June 2017, Brent Council’s cabinet voted in favour of proposals to extend licensing to all private rented homes in the borough although under rule changes introduced in 2015, they are unable to implement the proposal without approval from the Secretary of State.
The council will now prepare a report to seek government approval and the outcome could be known later this year.
Current licensing schemes in Brent
On 1 January 2015, Brent Council introduced a borough wide additional licensing scheme covering all houses in multiple occupation. This includes any property occupied by three or more people who are not all related even if they are on a single tenancy and regardless of the size of the property.
There is also a selective licensing scheme covering all other private rented homes in the council wards of Harlesden, Wembley Central or Willesden Green. The schemes run for five years until 31 December 2019.
According to the council around 6,000 properties have been licensed so far. However, whilst the number of selective licensing applications have exceeded council expectations, only 1,573 additional HMO licence applications have been approved – just under 10% of the 16,000 licence applications the council had expected to receive.
Selective licensing Consultation
Brent Council consulted on their selective licensing proposals for 11 weeks from 30 September to 16 December 2016 and received 1,207 responses. As with most licensing consultations, the proposals attracted strong support from residents whilst there was strong objection from landlords and managing agents.
The council are now seeking approval to extend licensing to all 37,000 private rented homes in the borough, which would make it one of the largest licensing schemes in the country. The council want to introduce six new selective licensing schemes covering 18 council wards:
- Dudden Hill, Kensal Green, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Queens Park (designation area 1 – on grounds of anti-social behaviour, poor housing conditions, migration and high levels of crime);
- Brondesbury Park, Queensbury (designation 2 on grounds of migration, anti- social behaviour and high level of crime);
- Dollis Hill, Welsh Harp (designation 3 on grounds of poor housing conditions and anti-social behaviour);
- Alperton, Barnhill, Sudbury, Tokyngton (designation 4 on grounds of anti-social behaviour and poor housing conditions);
- Stonebridge (designation 5 on grounds of anti-social behaviour, high levels of crime, deprivation and poor housing conditions);
- Fryent, Kenton, Northwick Park, Preston (designation 6 on grounds of anti-social behaviour and migration).
If the government grant approval, the new selective licensing fee will be increased to £540 per property, up from £340 per property under the current selective licensing scheme.
Cllr Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, Brent Council said:
“We have made these recommendations on the basis of reducing anti-social behaviour, deprivation and poor housing conditions in Brent. We have evidence to prove that when a landlord is required to meet the stipulations of a licence, we increase the likelihood of tenants enjoying a better standard of living and reduce anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood.“
The government’s decision will be watched with much interest, as Ministers have previously made clear their objection to borough wide blanket licensing schemes. All schemes covering more than 20% of a borough can only be implemented with government approval.
The council have said that borough wide selective licensing could be in force by January 2018 if government gives the go-ahead.
Brent Council say they have a zero-tolerance policy towards unlicensed properties and nearly 100 landlords and agents have been prosecuted in the past 18 months. Brent’s enforcement team raids around 12 unlicensed properties a week. A landlord without a licence could face a criminal prosecution and unlimited fines.
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