The new licensing scheme for rented homes in Nottingham is set to come into force on Wednesday, August 1, and yet it has so far only received applications from 10% of the city's properties.
The new controversial licensing regime, which is set to cover in the region of 32,000 privately rented homes, affecting 91% of landlords in the city, is believed to be the second largest scheme in the UK outside of London.
Registration for the scheme has been open for a month, requiring landlords whose properties are in the designated areas to register, with accredited landlords required to pay £480 per property, while non-accredited must pay £780.
Designated areas include Arboretum, Bestwood, Bulwell, Bulwell Forest, Basford, Berridge, Bridge, Clifton North, Clifton South, Dales, Dunkirk and Lenton, Leen Valley, Mapperley, Radford and Park, Sherwood, St Ann’s, Wollaton East and Lenton Abbey.
Failure to comply with the new scheme could lead to a civil penalty of up to £30,000, or prosecution on summary conviction which carries an unlimited maximum fine. Landlords may also be prevented from holding a licence in the future.
However, the scheme has not been well received, with a recent petition calling on the government to carry out a review of Nottingham City Council’s Selective Licensing Scheme, attracting more than 1,700 signatures.
Although 32,000 or so properties need a licence, the local authority has merely received just 3,140 applications so far - and the deadline is in less than 48 hours.
David Thomas, director of Liberty Gate, a letting agent based in the Lace Market, told the Nottingham Post that it was always going to be “impossible” to get 32,000 properties registered in just one month.
He said: “This [new licensing scheme] is ruining the private rented sector in Nottingham.
“The council has not informed one single landlord directly. It is an absolute shambles. To get all these properties done in one month was impossible from the start.
“They are lucky they have 3,140. It can take weeks to get one application through and I have 120 I need to submit [on behalf of landlord clients].
“Rent will go up immediately - £25 a month to recover it over the long term. It is an expense that landlords never factored in and they need to pay the mortgage.
“Some landlords are having to pay for 50 properties - and the people who are feeling the pain are the tenants.”
Thomas reports that the “majority” of landlords are planning to put rents up, while around a quarter are selling up.
“There will be more people who are homeless,” he added. “The only ones who are winning are the council by raising £20m from this.”
Mike Siebert, chair of Nottingham Park Residents Association, believes that the licensing scheme will offer Nottingham City Council “more control over the absentee landlords”, but ultimately agrees that “it is just a way of making money for the council”.
He commented: “It backfires if rents go up. It is more expensive to rent than get a mortgage so it will be worse for them. If everyone puts up the price of rent what is it achieving?”