High Court upholds Croydon Council’s selective licensing scheme
Croydon Council’s selective licensing scheme will come into force on 1 October after a High Court Judge rejected a legal challenge.
On 16 March 2015, Croydon Council’s Cabinet meeting decided to implement a borough wide selective licensing scheme from 1 October 2015 (read here).
Croydon Property Forum Ltd challenged the Council’s decision through the Judicial Review process and on 4 August, a hearing took place in the Royal Courts of Justice before Sir Stephen Silber, Sitting as a High Court Judge.
The legal challenge focused on alleged deficiencies the consultation process. It was argued that the Council had failed to take reasonable steps to consult with people likely to be affected by the licensing scheme. In particular, that no attempt was made to consult with property developers and that over 9,000 landlords and agents should have been written to when the formal consultation process started.
Clive Sheldon QC, on behalf of the Council, provided a detailed account of the efforts taken to promote the public consultation exercise. This included advertising on the Council’s website and email bulletins, a press release, newspaper adverts, posters and flyers distributed around the borough, emails to resident groups and use of social media. The consultation had taken place in two stages between 17 November 2014 to 12 December 2014 and 23 December 2014 to 2 March 2015.
In a judgement handed down on 13 August 2014, High Court Judge Sir Stephen Silber ruled that the Council had complied with its duty to take reasonable steps to consult with people likely to be affected by the designation. He refused the application by Croydon Property Forum Ltd to overturn the licensing scheme (read full judgement here).
Commenting on the outcome, Croydon Councillor Alison Butler, deputy leader and cabinet member for homes, regeneration and planning said:
“We always maintained that our landlord licensing scheme was robust and lawful, so we’re very pleased to hear the High Court has found in our favour.
“This scheme is important because raising housing standards and tackling antisocial behaviour is crucial to making Croydon a better place to live.
“We’ll continue to prepare for the licence’s launch on 1 October, and urge any landlords who haven’t yet taken advantage of our early bird discount fee to join the thousand who have.“
The selective licensing scheme, which is expected to cover about 30,000 private rented homes, is already open to applications and landlords who apply before 1 October 2015 are being charged a discounted fee of £350, saving them £400 per property.
According to the Council, more than 1,000 private landlords have already taken advantage of an early-bird discounted fee to apply for licences on more than 1,550 rented properties. The licence fee will increase to £750 when the borough-wide scheme goes live on 1 October 2015.
Any private landlord caught renting out a property without a licence from 1 October 2015 could be prosecuted and upon conviction, subject to an unlimited fine.