HIGH COURT BACKS CROYDON LANDLORD LICENSING SCHEME
A legal bid to stop Croydon council’s plans to raise housing standards by licensing private landlords has been unsuccessful in the High Court.
At the Royal Courts of Justice in London on Thursday, Judge the Hon. Sir Stephen Silber QC refused an application by Croydon Property Forum to overturn the council scheme.
The applicants had argued at a full High Court hearing on Tuesday 4 August that the council had approved the scheme in March without taking “reasonable steps” to consult. However, the judge announced on Thursday morning that he had refused Croydon Property Forum’s application.
There are around 30,000 private rented properties in the borough, and the council developed the scheme to raise housing standards and tackle dodgy landlords who undercut their competitors on quality and price.
Any private landlord caught renting out a property without a licence from October will face fines of up to £20,000, while anyone breaking licence conditions can be prosecuted and fined up to £5,000.
Following several months of consultation, the council’s cabinet approved the scheme in March in response to a rise in privately-rented properties, with negative consequences including antisocial behaviour and poor-quality homes.
Croydon’s deputy leader and cabinet member for homes regeneration & planning Cllr Alison Butler , 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.”
A Croydon council spokesman said: “More than 1,000 Croydon private landlords have already saved hundreds of pounds by taking advantage of an early-bird discounted licence on a total of more than 1,550 rented properties.
“Available since 1 July, this £350 discounted licence goes up to £750 per private rented property when the borough-wide scheme goes live on 1 October.
“A typical licence lasts five years, so landlords qualifying for the £350 early-bird discount will pay the equivalent of 19p a day.
“Most landlords applying from October will pay a one-off £750, but those failing to meet their licence conditions may have to pay £750 each year. “All applicants must prove they are fit and proper.”
For more information or to apply for a licence, please visit: www.croydon.gov.uk/betterplacetorent
(Source: Croydon council press release.)
PROPERTY FORUM STATEMENT
A statement on the Croydon Property Forum website says: “We have now received the judgment of Sir Stephen Silber.
“Whilst he was satisfied that there were good grounds for a judicial review claim, on the evidence before him, he decided that the council’s level of publicity about the scheme was sufficient for persons likely to be affected by it (developers/landlords) to carry out their own ‘due diligence’ to find out about such details, even if they had not been directly informed.
“It is open to our barristers to apply to the judge for permission to appeal, but this needs to be done urgently I.e. by Tuesday 18th August 2015, and we would need to arrange further funds to cover their additional fees.
“Please note that the basis for granting permission would be either a review of the evidence heard in court and/or a review of the law applied to that evidence (i.e. what constitutes a ‘consultation) and whether or not it would be in the ‘public interest’ for an appeal to be heard.
“We are reasonably confident that the judge would grant permission with the latter point in mind, given that the decision is likely to set a precedent for other boroughs throughout the country.
“Please continue to donate to preserve the prospects of an appeal!”