February 13, 2024 6:10 pm

Insert Lead Generation
Nikka Sulton

Bristol’s Labour council is sparking controversy by extending licensing schemes to new areas within the city, accompanied by a substantial £1,800 per HMO license fee, causing frustration among landlords. The Bristol Post news website reveals that despite the approval of this extension, details from the recent decision’s consultation indicate widespread opposition from landlords and their allies.

The move by the council to implement these licensing schemes has stirred discontent within the landlord community, as the significant fee adds financial strain. The Bristol Post’s coverage of the decision underscores the challenges faced by landlords who are vocal in their opposition, highlighting concerns about the impact of such fees on their ability to manage properties effectively and maintain a viable rental business.

The introduction of licensing fees for HMOs is expected to impose a financial burden of around £1,800, with potential discounts for landlords possessing relevant safety and energy performance certificates. Additionally, licenses for other privately rented homes in specified wards are set at £912, offering potential discounts. The outcome of the council’s consultation process reveals a notable 40 percent disagreement with the proposal, whereas only 52 percent expressed agreement.

Addressing these developments, the Bristol Post sheds light on concerns raised by the rental accreditation service Safeagent. In a letter to the council, Safeagent drew attention to the council’s own figures, indicating an estimated 6,005 privately rented properties in the wards of Bishopston, Ashley Down, Cotham, and Easton. Safeagent emphasized the significant projected cost of implementing the selective licensing scheme, which stands at £3.5 million.

“The proposed fee of £912 has raised concerns within the landlord community, particularly regarding its potential to generate £5.48 million in revenue. This figure, when compared to the allowable cost, even with the offered discounts, has sparked apprehension. Landlords fear that this approach might be perceived as Bristol City Council penalizing compliant property owners with seemingly high license fees, raising questions about the allocation of funds and the council’s commitment to standards enforcement.

Adding to the discourse, the Bristol Post reports on Grainger’s response during the consultation. As a significant corporate landlord, Grainger pointed out its experience with various licensing schemes across different boroughs. The company highlighted a noticeable lack of inspections and document checks, suggesting a gap in the effectiveness of these schemes in ensuring that properties meet suitable standards.

In evaluating the situation, concerns linger about the potential imbalance in the fee structure and the impact on landlords who strive to meet compliance standards. The debate continues, with stakeholders urging a closer examination of the proposed fees and a transparent reassessment of how they align with the actual costs and objectives of licensing schemes.”

“With licensing schemes now exceeding £1 million for Grainger, the additional financial burden is deemed significant. Coupled with escalating construction costs and finance rates, this could potentially impact project viability and housing delivery, prompting an anticipated surge in viability challenges to Section 106 and affordable housing contributions. Landlords, in turn, may find themselves compelled to raise rents to offset these mounting costs.

Councillor Kye Dudd, overseeing Bristol’s housing services, defended the fee hike during a meeting, emphasizing the administration’s commitment to expanding landlord licensing schemes. Dudd asserted that ensuring a safe and secure living space is crucial for a happy and healthy life. The tool is seen as instrumental in enhancing the quality and management of privately rented properties. Despite potential complaints from the landlord lobby about it being perceived as a tax, Dudd contends that evidence from earlier schemes indicates an improvement in standards, citing increased property inspections and positive outcomes.”

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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