Thursday, 10 April 2014

Licensing scheme to go before cabinet

Council chiefs are expected to back plans to introduce a compulsory licensing scheme for private landlords at a meeting tonight. 

Enfield Council’s cabinet will make a decision on the scheme, known as additional and selective licensing, under which private landlords will have to obtain a £500 five-year licence from the authority to cover every property they own. 

In order to secure a licence, landlords have to ensure that sufficient health and safety measures are in place, as well as procedures to deal with antisocial behaviour and environmental crime. 

The council believes ineffective management of privately rented homes has resulted in heightened levels of antisocial behaviour, poor standards of homes, overcrowding and missed rubbish collections. 

Following a consultation period, the proposed fee was reduced from £575 – but the council says it will offer an early bird discounted fee of £250 for landlords who sign up before April next year. 

The cost to a landlord who takes up the discount offer will amount to 96p a week per property over five years. 

Council chiefs are expected to face serious opposition from landlords at tonight’s meeting. 

A group called Enfield Landlords, which describes itself as “the umbrella organisation that self-regulates private landlords and landowners” in the borough, was set up in response to the plans. 

A petition the group started in February has been signed by 1,860 people and the matter is likely to be discussed at the next overview and scrutiny committee, which can review the policy and make recommendations. 

Edgar Meto, the landlord who heads up Enfield Landlords, has previously told the Advertiser he believes the proposals are based on the“flawed premise” that privately rented homes are the key drivers of antisocial behaviour in the borough. 

He has also accused the council of simply trying to increase revenue with the scheme. 

The initiative is supported by Jill Harrison, chief executive of Enfield Citizens' Advice Bureau. 

She said: “Something needs to be done to improve things in the private rented sector and if you are a good landlord you will not have anything to fear from the scheme. 

I think it will benefit both landlords and tenants, it is in everyone’s interest if properties are managed properly.” 

The plans are not supported by Conservative councillors. Edward Smith, shadow cabinet member for housing, said: “Our objection to the scheme is the level of inspection that is being proposed and the fees connected to it. 

“We are not in favour of the exploitation of tenants, but there are different ways of dealing with this without the need for a registration system.” 

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