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Government refuse permission for new selective licensing scheme in Croydon

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Government refuse permission for Croydon selective licensing scheme 2021

In a dramatic announcement, the Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government has refused Croydon Council’s application for borough wide selective licensing.

The news, shared on the Inside Croydon website is sure to come as a disappointment for Croydon Council.

Croydon Council operated a borough wide selective licensing scheme covering all private rented properties from 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2020 (here).

According to the council, over 13,000 properties were inspected during the licensing scheme with many issues resolved informally. In more problematic cases, over 1,000 enforcement notices and 75 prohibition orders had been served. Over 40 landlords were issued with civil financial penalties or prosecuted.

Consultation on new licensing scheme

Unlike many London boroughs, Croydon Council decided not to pursue plans for an additional licensing scheme that is restricted to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). Additional licensing in Croydon ended in 2015.

Instead, the council consulted on plans for a replacement selective licensing scheme from 16 December 2019 to 9 March 2020 (read here). Two options were consulted upon – one extending borough wide and another extending to 97% of the borough.

Both schemes were above the 20% threshold that require government approval, leaving the council unable to pursue a phased approach. 

On 11 May 2020, the council’s cabinet meeting approved plans for a new scheme and on 20 July 2020 an application was submitted to government seeking permission to implement a replacement selective licensing scheme. The council had been waiting over 10 months for a decision, most likely delayed by the pandemic.

Secretary of State decision announced

On 7 June 2021, the Secretary of State wrote to Croydon Council to inform them that their application for borough wide selective licensing had been refused.

In a letter seen by London Property Licensing, the Secretary of State said the council had failed to:

  • demonstrate how the proposal was consistent with the council’s overall housing strategy;
  • show how making the designation would significantly assist them to achieve their objectives; and
  • comply with the 2015 Selective Licensing Order with respect to poor housing conditions.

The Secretary of State said the council had failed to demonstrate how selective licensing, combined with other measures taken by then would contribute to an improvement in the general housing conditions in the area.

The Secretary of State also said the council had not demonstrated ‘…strong outcomes or efficient delivery…’ of the previous 2015 to 2020 scheme.

At the time of going to press, the government’s decision has not yet been published on the council’s website. Whilst not a legal requirement, the Secretary of State has encouraged the council to take reasonable steps to publish the decision.

What happens next?

With Croydon Council facing a challenging financial situation (here) and criticism of its council housing management service (here), it is unclear what the council will decide to do next.

Whilst the council could ask the Secretary of State to review their decision based of new evidence, it seems unlikely their decision will change.

The council could develop new proposals for additional and/or smaller selective licensing schemes and launch a new public consultation. Any new scheme resulting from that would be delayed until next year.

Alternatively, the council may decide to pause and take stock. In the meantime, they could focus resources on mandatory HMO licensing and other housing regulatory powers for non-licensable properties.

Any further update from Croydon Council will be shared in due course.

A free guide containing more detailed information about property licensing and HMO planning rules in the London Borough of Croydon is available here.

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