Residents in Camden could see their rents rise after the council has confirmed they’re considering renewing a scheme which would mean all landlords would be required to take out a license in order to rent out their property. At the moment, only homes of multiple occupancy need this sort of licensing unless there is a local or additional licensing scheme in place. If considered successful in Camden, this could spread throughout the country and renting more costly for landlords in Birmingham, Manchester and throughout the UK.
Camden Borough Council started a 3-month consultation period allowing landlords, tenants and other residents the opportunity to express their thoughts, reservations and hopes for the scheme. According to the council, the continuation of the scheme will protect tenants from rogue landlords, but there are some real concerns.
Firstly, the council proposed charge is around £1300 per applications. These costs are unlikely to stay with the landlords, therefore tenants in Camden will be looking at a significant increase in their rents just to cover this charge.
Another concern is the fact the national government already has the tools to tackle poor management. With over 400 regulations and more than 150 acts of Parliament affecting private landlords and how they are allowed to operate, the authorities should already be doing more to root out bad behaviour through civil penalties and rent repayment orders by landlords without adding an extra fee on top.
In addition, will these charges even lead to better conditions? The council will pursue landlords that haven’t paid the charge, but will they be vigilant against those who pay the fine but still rent out properties in substandard conditions? These questions have yet to be answered by the council and many tenants and residents don’t hold out much hope. Staff will be focused on chasing the fee rather than improving the property management standards.
Instead of renewing the current scheme, we believe the council should establish landlords and rental properties through council tax records. This won’t require self-identification, unlike licensing, and will ensure landlords can’t operate under the radar. Additional licensing has some potential benefits, but the costs on both sides, are worrying for landlords, tenants and residents alike.