Nottingham City Council have conducted a mid-scheme review on Selective Licensing as we move into year four of the scheme.
Their review consists of a 12 page document which can be read via the Council’s website. However, Walton & Allen letting agents have lifted some key points which may be of interest to our landlords and future clients.
Since August 2018 when the scheme first began, the Council have issued multiple penalty notices and prosecuted landlords for non compliance. The full breakdown is as follows:
- 53 civil penalty notices (CPNs), 37 of which were failure to apply for a licence
- 13 landlords prosecuted for 49 offences at 30 properties (however, only 27 of these offences related to the licensing scheme)
- 4607 landlords issued with legal notices requiring them to provide information
- 75 formal written warnings issued in 2020 during Covid-19 lockdown (66 of which relate to licensing)
- 916 letters sent during Covid-19 to encourage applications
- 3 Rent Repayment Order* determinations in relation to properties unlicensed (2 landlords over 3 properties)
*A Rent Repayment Order can be issued to any landlord who does not hold a licence and is required to do so. This involves the landlord having to repay all rent received during their tenancy back to the tenant.
New applications continue
The Council have stated that “despite the significant amount of awareness raising were [sic] is still a large number of landlords that have not applied for a licence and applications continue to be received at approximately 200 per month”.
Walton & Allen understands that these continued applications may also be as a result of property sales. Licenses are non transferable and a new owner must apply for a new Selective Licence.
The Council are conducting regular checks on safety certificates. All properties managed for landlords on behalf of Walton & Allen have all the relevant safety certificates in place. If your EICR, Gas Safety Certificate, or EPC is due to expire then it is a legal requirement to ensure these are renewed.
Increase in EPCs
The Council have stated that Selective Licensing has seen a huge increase in properties obtaining an up to date Energy Performance Certificate. Nottingham now has the highest proportion of properties with a valid EPC in the whole country at 70.9 per cent. Just behind sits Manchester with 67.5 per cent and Bristol with 60.1 per cent.
A major focus for the Council within the Selective Licensing scheme is tackling anti-social behaviour (ASB). When the council receives an ASB complaint, a landlord will be notified but not expected to respond. If a second complaint is received within 12 months then the landlord will be contacted again and expected to discuss what steps can be taken to resolve the issues.
Visits to unlicensed properties have uncovered some disrepair and in particular it has been noted that some smoke alarm systems are not working or are completely absent from the property. It is a legal requirement for landlords to install a smoke alarm on every floor of a property and a carbon monoxide alarm in every room with a solid fuel burning appliance. The landlord is also required to ensure these are working at the start of every tenancy. All properties managed for landlords by Walton & Allen comply with smoke alarm regulations.
Living conditions improve
Property compliance inspections have proven to be successful. In one case, for example, vulnerable tenants were living with only two gas fires to heat their entire home. The landlord upgraded the property with gas central heating.
Licensing fee review
There was a Selective Licensing fee increase in March 2020. Prices rose from £780 to £890 for a five year licence. Nottingham City Council stated that the previous fees were not high enough to cover their overheads, despite having the highest licencing costs compared to every other scheme in the country.
The Council estimates that, at the current rate, licencing applications could total 28,000 by the end of the scheme. Using the current fee structure, with no accreditation discount, this would total almost £25,000,000 in fees for the Council.
At the time of writing there is no plan to increase fees further although this is being reviewed periodically.
The council aims to have inspected 50% of non-accredited properties by the end of the scheme (2023). Non-accredited properties are those managed by landlords who are not accredited by DASH or Unipol.
Based on the figures provided in the Council review report, Walton & Allen estimates 50% of non-accredited applications to be 5610. In March 2020 the Council reported to have inspected 600 properties internally. This means there are 5010 properties left to inspect in the next two years.
Some key stats
Inspections conducted up to March 2020 (Pre-lockdown)
Properties inspected – 660
Properties improved – intervention 202
Properties improved – before Council intervened 70
Applications (Individual and block combined)
Applications received – 27438
Draft licences issued – 22,752
Final licenses issued – 19,951
Applications withdrawn, cancelled, refused – 2474
Number of individual properties where a licence application has been issued – 22099
Temporary Exemption Requests (TEN)
TEN Requests – 925
Approved – 571
Rejected – 97
Withdrawn – 244
To be determined – 13
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