Brighton and Hove landlords have spoken out against a new licensing scheme in the city, with just a third agreeing to the plan.
Over 3,000 landlords in Brighton and Hove will need to submit a new licensing scheme, costing them an initial £1,000 and then a further £600 per year. The scheme applies to all owners of houses in multiple occupation (HMO), and will be implemented in March next year. The scheme is replacing existing landlord strategies currently in place in areas such as Lewes Road.
However, a meeting of Brighton and Hove City Council’s housing and new homes committee revealed that the results from a major consultation carried out between June and September this year proved the scheme not to be entirely popular. The scheme received up to 800 responses, with 87 per cent in favour of its implementation. However, amongst the private landlords who responded to the consultation, the majority opposed the scheme. 48 per cent of landlords strongly opposed the licensing rules.
Council officer Martin Reid informed the committee there was ‘sufficient evidence’ of irresponsibly managed HMOs to justify the wider licensing scheme.
However, the scheme’s cost presents a drawback for landlords. For an HMO of between six and eight lettings, the initial fee for landlords would be around £1,010. Those who already have accreditation would pay £110 less, although those who need to be reminded to pay would pay £140 more. The renewal fee would then be £600, with similar variation. The scheme will apply to approximately 3,200 HMOs in the city.
Councillor Mary Mears presented her concern: ‘We might create more problems for tenants. Landlords will pass on the costs to their tenants, whatever anyone says. That’s business.’
She argued that the scheme failed to extend existing council powers that could be used to prohibit rogue landlord activity. However, Councillor Tracey Hill replied: ‘There are powers but the council lacks the resources in terms of how they’re used and has had to scale back how it uses powers to manage standards.’