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Landlords rebel against Labour council £1,800 licence fee

Bristol’s controversial Labour council is extending previous licensing schemes to other parts of the city at some £1,800 HMO per licence - and landlords are angry.

The Bristol Post news website reports that although the extension has now been agreed, details of the consultation that led to last week’s decision show extensive opposition from landlords and their allies.

Licences for HMOs will cost about £1,800 with discounts offered for relevant safety and energy performance certificates; licences for other privately rented homes in selected wards will cost £912, also with discounts on offer. 

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Some 40 were cent of responses to the council’s consultation disagreed with the proposal - only 52 per cent agreed.

The Bristol Post reports that rental accreditation service Safeagent wrote to the council to express its concerns: “Bristol City Council’s figures suggest there are some 6,005 privately rented properties in the wards of Bishopston, Ashley Down, Cotham and Easton. The projected cost of implementation of the selective licensing scheme is quoted as £3.5 million. 

“The fee being proposed, £912, would generate a revenue of £5.48 million. Given that the local authority is not permitted to make a profit from any licensing scheme, the fee seems disproportionate to the cost, even allowing for the discounts that are available.

“There is a danger here that BCC will be perceived to be penalising good, conscientious and compliant landlords by imposing high licence fees on them, in order to subsidise the local authority in funding its obligations to enforce standards.”

And the Post also reports that Grainger, a large corporate landlord, responded to the consultation by writing: “Grainger is subject to numerous licensing schemes across different boroughs, however very few local authorities have attended any of our properties to complete inspections and check documents. In most situations there have been no formal checks and little work undertaken to ensure properties are of a suitable standard.

“With licensing schemes now costing Grainger in excess of £1m the additional cost of licensing is not insignificant and, with additional pressures on construction costs and finance rates, has the ability to have a major impact on project viability and housing delivery. This will likely lead to an increase in viability challenges to Section 106 and affordable housing contributions, as well as forcing many landlords to increase the rents charged to their customers.”

Councillor Kye Dudd, responsible for Bristol’s housing services, has told a meeting agreeing the fee hike: “We’re delivering on our manifesto commitment to expand landlord licensing schemes in the city. Our administration believes that having a safe and secure roof over your head is key to ensuring we all have the best opportunity to live a happy and healthy life. 

“This is a tool that will help us improve the quality and management of private rented properties. The evidence from the earlier schemes is clear: it has driven up standards. You might hear the landlord lobby complaining that this is just a tax and we’re trying to raise revenue, or whatever. But actually, it has driven up [standards]. We’ve got people going out inspecting properties, and it’s worked.”

The council’s Labour Mayor - Marvin Rees - is a long-time campaigner for the power to exercise rent controls over the private sector and now says he wants to be a MP on behalf of the party, following a public referendum which voted to abolish his Mayor’s position.

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  • Peter Lewis

    Up go the rents in a City that already has some of the highest rents outside of London.

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    • Joe
    • 13 February 2024 06:39 AM

    Always posting for your own political bias. Very sad little man

    Richard LeFrak

    Who is?

     
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    to Peter Why Do I Bother, I think he is talking about the 'Labour' mention - therefore making it political.
    It's not political, it's a money grab, councils (regardless of which political party is in control) are both increasing licensing boundaries and fees and also are raising Council Taxes across the country. This is motivated by relentless central governent funding cuts to council's annual budget these past 13 years.
    eg LB of Havering (my local council) in 2010 received £70m funding, in 2024 £1.5m. Despite making £160m of its own savings in expenditure over past 10 years by cutting and cutting services, Havering is facing a £32.5 million budget shortfall (re 2024/2025), which escalates to a daunting £81.9 million deficit over the next four years. LB of Havering has one of the oldest populations in London together with the second fastest growing young population in the country. This is due to years of drastic underfunding from the government, a significant spike in homelessness and housing need, coupled with unprecedented demand for both adults’ and children’s social care.
    To stave off the looming financial crisis, the council is urgently seeking government approval for a £54 million loan through the Capitalisation Directive. Without this crucial intervention, the council may be forced to trigger a Section 114 notice, effectively declaring bankruptcy.
    Check what has happened to your own council's central funding over the past 13 years!

     
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    It does seems obvious that the council’s see all this as an income opportunity 💵💵😬😬

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    • A JR
    • 13 February 2024 09:04 AM

    Another £5.8 million raised with the corrupted justification rooted in some kind of the usual self serving ‘consultation’ no doubt.
    A scam with a ‘licence’ for Bristol Council to squander more money and worsen their housing crisis. They can only reap what they sow.

     
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    Wouldn’t it be great if that’s all it was costing £1800.00 and finish but that’s only the starting point as I know to my cost and causing homelessness.
    That’s only the Application fee what about the cost of Compliance many thousands of pounds more, its too long for a text that they have invented. Obviously your property doesn’t Comply because it was built before they invented those Rules so how could it,
    £3’500’000 they say to implement the Scheme in Bristol. Let’s be Clear its not costing the Rogue Council a penny. All out of Private Landlords pockets in turn putting pressure on Rents forcing landlords to increase or go bust making Rents unaffordable for Tenants, do they really think the Tenants can’t see through this. They must love this kind of help, not, and as a blatant smoke screen coverup tell them they can have life time Tenancies of another persons property to keep them quiet for now. Forgetting of course we were virtually all Tenants in our younger days as I was for many years.
    Today’s generation will be tomorrow’s property owners remember that so before you it is like the man with the wheel barrow.

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    Bristol landlords have had opportunities to oppose the "city wide" licensing schemes but they are submissive. They are weak and reluctant to raise their heads above the parapet. Through the Local Landlord Association (Wessex) , they have had opportunities to rally and jointly fund an appeal against these schemes. They are silent in their absence. Instead, and due to a raft of other reasons, landlords have decided to sell up. This makes a mockery of BCC's PRS Strategy will not achieve it's objective to reduce the numbers of homeless. Instead it will reduce the number of homes available to those who cannot afford to buy. The extortionate fees are not justified. I believe an independent audit of the PRS departments accounts is justified.

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    • A JR
    • 13 February 2024 09:07 AM

    Not helped by a weak and appeasing NRLA either!

     
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    I am in favour of action being taken against those who run illegal or substandard properties. But I don't believe this should be funded by the landlords who provide a good standard of accommodation.

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    Councils are not allowed to make a profit from these schemes?! Don’t worry about that - they are like low IQ lottery winners, and will fritter away the tenants hard earned money like water through a sieve. The fact they don’t make a profit is an indication of their sheer incompetence rather than them attempting to run at cost price.

    In Scotland they introduced mandatory licensing and it costs £75 for three years. So anything above this is has to be a combination of profiteering and incompetent financial management.

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    an HMO Licence in Glasgow for 3 unrelated people to live in a flat or house is £1900 and there are no discounts on that extortionate fee

     
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    Joseph - wow I had no idea - I only do BTLs - but £1900 is truly extortionate!

     
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    AND Glasgow charges another £950 every 3 years thereafter- plus the cost of any additional "improvements" they dream up, like self closing fire doors which tenants wedge open, interlinked mains operated smoke alarms in case tenants remove batteries, 24 hour LED lights in vestibules where tenants remove the bulbs to save electricity, intumescent collars on shower room fans - only some of what we've been forced to provide over the last 20 years or so since HMO Licencing first infested Glasgow.

     
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    I agree with what Steve Austin has said. In fact the Councils all round the country are largely staffed by the unemployables, with a can't do attitude. Don't be disheartened guys we have to somehow support the various shades of so-called govts. Council authorities with their sheer gross incompetence. Why are we in this plight? Simple failure of Govts. over the years including MaggieT. Failure to invest in social housing. She sold housing cheap to existing tenants who profited from re-sale a few years later. N O POLICY OF NEW BUILDS? Our politicians have an IQ of 50 to 75. Just look after no. 1! We then had joker & devious politicians who started the HS2, to help their friends companies make money, instead of putting that money into housing, and now the HS2 stuck >> SHORT OF CASH??

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    It’s not about the £5.8 million!!! That’s a smokescreen to the additional powers the council now have over your properties equity. It allows them to fine a SL property much higher and for more infringements than a non SL property. It’s in the SL contract we are forced to agree with. A lot of councils are about to go bankrupt and the way to get money is through your investment. Tenants are just the casualties of war. They get very little when there’s a court case. The council get it all at the tenant's expense as well

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    • A JR
    • 13 February 2024 09:18 AM

    Councils are not allowed to make a profit from licensing schemes!

    I don’t know of any council that hasn’t made a pile of money from licensing.
    Councils are now unwittingly issuing ‘last straws’ to private landlords, blind to the consequences, and arrogant enough to believe they can go on fleecing landlords and piling agony on renters.

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    Bristol is anti-car and anti-landlord. Thanks to them my contractors will not attend certain parts of the city because of parking problems. As soon as they licence my remaining properties, the rents will go up and, once empty, I will sell. You can see why the mayor wants to be an MP, he wants to be on the gravy train.

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    Annoyed LL - So obvious. He was outvoted on the referendum now wants to catch the second gravy train. Blatant scavenger

     
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    Dead right about the parking especially Clifton and triangle area. Cllr don't even answer emails, and getting a permit takes 10 phone calls and hours of waiting, Ipermit is a shambles.

     
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    Francis, my flats are off Park Row with allocated, off street parking, or finding contractors would be very difficult.

     
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    Joseph, yes 3 individuals must have a license classed as 3 households but if 2 were a couple it would be classed as 2 households and probably no license required.
    Although on this website some days ago the 3 individuals were 2 households when they arrived, helped the Landlord to fill in the Tenancy Agreement. Then later decided they were 3 individuals which would need a license that they knew obviously their Landlord did have and claimed back approx £10k in Rent after they left.
    I have actually seen 3 individuals a threesome a women and 2 men in the one bed, although they had other beds, what way do you define this scenario would it be one household, ?.

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    a shagathon

     
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    Just what we all need in the middle of a housing crisis. God hp us if Labour get into power. SELL SELL SELL

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    Another reason to sell up! Not only are landlords vilified we are treated as a cash cow.

  • Mick Roberts

    You have just made 100's homeless Kye Dudd & increased rents for hundreds more.
    You are correct in saying:
    “The evidence from the earlier schemes is clear: it has driven up standards. You often might hear the landlord lobby complaining that this is just a tax and we’re trying to raise revenue, or whatever. We’ve got people going out inspecting properties, and it’s worked.”
    But have u seen the other evidence? Where the other houses that were already nice are now getting worse cause u Bristol City Council are having the rent money instead?
    Have u seen the other evidence where those paying cheap rents, happy to do their own stuff, are now having rent increases to pay for your Licensing?
    Those paying cheap rents with already nice houses have now had rent increases?
    The other evidence where people can no longer move cause Selective Licensing has increased rents?

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    Dudd by name, dud by nature.

     
  • John  Adams

    Dear Tenant, your local councillor has insisted that your rent will be increased by £1,800 PA
    Please feel free to visit them, and ask them for an explanation.

    Regards
    Land lord.

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