Decision to consult on new Enfield property licensing schemes to be scrutinised by councillors

Sunday, July 14th, 2019 - Enfield Council

Research by London Property Licensing has uncovered plans by Enfield Council to introduce borough wide additional licensing together with a selective licensing scheme covering two thirds of the borough.

We understand the decision to consult on the proposed landlord licensing schemes was made by the council’s Cabinet Member for Licensing and Regulatory Services under delegated authority on 20 June 2019. To our best of our knowledge, the matter was not discussed at the council’s Cabinet meetings which took place on 12 June and 8 July.

The Cabinet member’s decision has since been ‘called-in’ by eight councillors who are unhappy with the decision. They think the evidence base does not justify the scope of the licensing proposals which they think are unfair to many private landlords who comply with their legal obligations.

According to the published reasons for calling in the decision, the councillors have said they think that property licensing powers should be used sparingly, that application fees will be passed onto tenants in the form of higher rent and that the council should be making better use of their existing enforcement powers.

The matter will be considered at the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting that takes place at 7.30pm on Monday 15 July 2019. It is understood the councillors will explain why they have called in the decision and the Cabinet Member will respond before the Committee debate the issue and decide how to proceed.

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee have the power to refer the decision back to the Cabinet Member for further consideration, refer the decision to full Council or confirm the original decision.

The eight councillors are asking for the proposals to be referred back to the Cabinet Member and the consultation proposals halted, while they decide whether to abandon or greatly restrict the proposed licensing scheme.

Previous licensing proposals abandoned in 2015

The decision to reconsider additional and selective licensing schemes comes after the council abandoned their plans for borough wide licensing in 2015.

A local landlord, Mr Constantinos Regas, took the Council to Judicial Review to try and get the licensing schemes overturned. In November 2014 His Honour Judge McKenna held that Enfield’s additional and selective licensing schemes were not lawfully designated due to defects in the consultation arrangements (read here).

Whilst the council got permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal, they decided to drop their appeal in July 2015 the and licensing schemes were quashed.

What do the new proposals entail?

If the Cabinet Member’s decision is upheld, the council will start consulting on proposals for a borough wide additional licensing scheme, which would extend licensing to all Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) occupied by three or more people. The council estimate there are almost 10,000 HMOs in the borough, although they have so far licensed only about 210 properties under the mandatory HMO licensing scheme.

Alongside additional licensing, the council intend to start consulting on proposals for two selective licensing designations covering 14 wards covering the east of the borough. The council want to introduce this scheme to help tackle concerns about poor housing conditions, deprivation and anti-social behaviour.

Richard Tacagni, MD, London Property Licensing commented:

Having lost a property licensing judicial review in 2014, it is interesting to see new proposals emerging from Enfield Council almost 5 years later.

With councillors meeting tomorrow night to review the decision, I have written to the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to highlight certain aspects of the business case that they may wish to reconsider“.

London Property Licensing will monitor developments at the Committee meeting and publish a further update in due course.

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

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