New Waltham Forest selective licensing scheme launched on 1 May 2020

Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 -

A new selective licensing covering most of the borough has been launched in the London Borough of Waltham Forest.

A public consultation took place from 4 February to 29 April 2019 and the scheme was approved by councillors at a Cabinet meeting on 11 July 2019 (read here).

As the scheme exceeds more than 20% of the borough, it could not be implemented without government approval. Secretary of State approval was granted earlier this year (read here).

In response to the COVID19 pandemic, safeagent in conjunction with London Property Licensing called on councils to delay new licensing schemes for six months (read here) and the government had advised councils to pause new schemes at an appropriate point (read here).

However, Waltham Forest Council had already published the scheme public notice in January 2020 and decided to proceed with the new scheme which came into force on 1 May 2020.

The selective licensing scheme applies borough wide except for the council wards of Hatch Lane and Endlebury. Within the designated area, a separate licence is required for each house or flat rented to a single person, couple, single household or two unrelated sharers. Separate licensing schemes apply to HMOs.

The council have introduced a new online application system with a standard licence application fee of £700 per property, payable in two instalments.

An early bird fee discount of £250 is being offered for all applications submitted by 31 October 2020. The original cut-off date of 31 July 2020 was extended in response to the COVID19 pandemic.

Rent Repayment Orders present a compliance risk

Whilst landlords and agents will welcome the longer early bird discount period, London Property Licensing is highlighting the ongoing compliance risk if licence applications are delayed.

With the scheme in force from 1 May 2020, landlords and agents who have not yet applied will find themselves in breach of the licensing scheme unless they can prove a defence of reasonable excuse.

Even if the council decide not to pursue enforcement action, the financial risk associated with Rent Repayment Orders remains. Tenants living in single family lets can apply to the First-tier Tribunal to reclaim rent they have paid between 1 May 2020 and the date the application is submitted, up to a maximum of 12 months.

With this in mind, London Property Licensing is encouraging landlords and agents to submit their licence applications as soon as possible.

Where this necessitates visiting the property, this will be further complicated by the need to avoid non-essential travel, observe social distancing and respect any tenants in self-isolation. The government have stressed the vital importance of good communication between landlords and tenants at this difficult time.

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

Whilst our normal licence application handling service is currently on hold due to COVID19, we can offer a lower cost desktop-only licence application service to assist during these challenging times. To find out more, please complete our online form (here) and we’ll contact you to discuss the options available.

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