A couple of weeks back we accepted an invitation to attend a meeting in regards to the Coventry Selective Licensing Scheme at the Mayors Hospitality Suite. We attended as both a Landlord and an Agent hoping to have views heard and get more information to relay back to yourselves.
After a very busy couple of weeks I have only just really had a moment or two to reflect on the information acquired at the meeting, so here goes!
On arrival it is clear the council representatives were not expecting such a turnout, packed into a very stuffy room like sardines. Introducing herself as ONLY a representative and she will not be able to provide any solutions to issues raised and merely just re iterating what is included in the very long PDF document that is the proposal laid out. Attached here if you have not yet read this. She did state that any issues and concerns would be forwarded to the Councillors responsible for the decision making, however, on a subject that has the feeling of “it’s a done deal already”, I hold little hope at this moment of any issues actually making a difference. Nevertheless, points still needed to be made and questions addressed.
The room is packed with a wide range of faces, some familiar from other agencies, and landlords we have known over the years, and some folks who seem to have travelled from afar to attend. Also attending and speaking was a Member of The National Landlords Association (http://www.landlords.org.uk/).
Nothing “NEW” was discussed that we haven’t already established from the media published already, and for the most part it did end up being a council bashing, to be fair though, what else could it have been, Landlords are required to pay £773 for ……… well, that’s exactly what the problem is. No one knows what they are getting for their money.
A vast majority of the questions asked was in relation to Student lets, St Michael’s Ward due to its locality has a very large amount of Student lets. The council representatives stated exclusively that students were not the problem, but private renters generally from the lower earnings bracket that reside in the St Michael’s Ward. So quite rightly the Landlords questioned why they should pay for something they feel doesn’t apply to them. The response was a standard “we will forward your concerns, nothing is set in stone and decided as of yet”. Leading on from this it was suggested, or more stated, it’s the ASBO/Rubbish issues that appear high on the general cause for this scheme being suggested. Again, question put forward as to why Landlords should pay to address issues already funded, Anti Social Behaviour Orders already exist and for any student who lets we all know they are exempt from council tax, government subsidise the cost of Council Tax.
About half way in the room started to develop a loud hum of voices, all pretty much whispering and muttering the same concern, again, what are we getting for our money, a handful of people leaving shaking their heads, clearly heard enough!
Council Representative stated the scheme is to be solely funded by itself, no profit to be made. So £773 for each rental property in the St Michael’s Ward is to fund, she said, staff members, administration, finding and pursuing landlords and………. Prosecution where applicable. However, the whole document referred to at the start of this Blog clearly states,
7.3 There are additional costs of a scheme which are not covered by the fee.
These include: Enforcement and Landlord accreditation
So, who pays for the enforcement, asked on numerous occasions, well, I quote “We rely on Landlords like yourself who come forward and pay the licensing fee to be able to find and chase these “rogue” landlords”. That came from the Council Representative.
I will leave that statement there. I’m sure you will conclude your own thoughts on that one.
One of my own questions related to how the £773 figure was made up, especially when you compare a relatively similar city to Coventry, Liverpool. Where they have adopted a rather successful licensing scheme, with concessions for Landlords from as little as £200. A very stark contrast to the £773 cost for Coventry Landlords, I asked “How can the council justify a cost of £773 for Selective Licensing when Liverpool for instance can charge only £200, is labour so much higher here?. The question was brushed aside with, it’s still in the consultation stage, but £773 is a precise figure!
With a few more consultation meetings to take place and a month before a decision is made there is still a lot of ground to cover and evidence to gather so watch this space for more updates.
For more on the Coventry Property Focus Blog please click here.