Enfield Council abandon plans for borough wide landlord licensing
In an unexpected announcement, Enfield Council have said they will no longer contest the Judicial Review decision that quashed their borough wide selective and additional licensing schemes.
On 9 April 2014, Enfield Council’s Cabinet made a decision to implement borough wide selective and additional licensing. The schemes were due to come into force on 1 April 2015 and would have required the licensing of all private rented accommodation in the borough.
Judicial Review by local landlord
A local landlord, Mr Constantinos Regas, took the Council to Judicial Review to try and get the licensing schemes overturned. In a judgement handed down on 26 November 2014 by His Honour Judge McKenna, it was held that the Enfield additional and selective licensing schemes were not lawfully designated and so both licensing schemes were cancelled. The reason was linked to the consultation arrangements.
Whilst the High Court refused Enfield Council leave to appeal, the council then petitioned the Court of Appeal direct for permission to appeal. Six months on, the council has been granted permission to challenge the decision, but has decided not to do so. As a result, the licensing schemes will not now go ahead.
Response from Enfield Cabinet Member
Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing and Housing Regeneration Cllr Ahmet Oykener, said:
“We have been granted permission by the Court to appeal the decision on the landlord licensing scheme in Court but the Government has, since we began this process, changed the law on licensing.
“As a result, even though our advice is that we have a good prospect of success in the Courts, we will be faced with difficulty in implementing the present selective licensing scheme because of changes in the law relating to the conditions and general approval for introducing selective licensing.
“In effect the goalposts have moved. We also want to revisit the case for additional licensing for Houses in Multiple Occupation.
“We will do the best to protect our residents and this means approaching the new Government regulations with an open mind.
“However I remain extremely concerned about increasing areas of privately rented properties in the borough which may not be of adequate standards, and in the light of the new regulations will look closely at means of dealing with areas experiencing for example poor property conditions, or high levels of crime.
“My duty is to ensure good quality properties, respect for the neighbourhoods, while maintaining a good relationship with responsible landlords. I am therefore asking officers to prepare a report for Cabinet on how we can best improve the quality of the private rented sector in Enfield.“
What happens next?
So what happens next? It seems the council will now go back to the drawing board to review their options and start again – perhaps with an amended licensing proposal. The council could also be facing a significant legal bill. When a Hynburn Council selective licensing scheme was quashed in 2011, it is reported that the council was ordered to pay £100,000 in legal costs (read here).
Commenting on the case, Richard Tacagni, Managing Director of London Property Licensing said:
“Whilst all interest groups will support the principle of effectively regulating the private rented sector, the million dollar question is how best to achieve this and what the role of licensing should be as part of the overall package of measures.
“Now the Judicial Review has concluded, the council has a real opportunity to meet with landlord, tenant and letting agency representatives and involve them in developing a new plan for regulating the private rented sector in Enfield.
“As an expert but impartial observer, I will be writing to the council today and offering my services to chair a roundtable discussion involving the council and all interested parties to discuss the issues and help map out the best way forward“.
Further information on property licensing in Enfield is available at www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/enfield.