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Croydon Council to license all private rented homes from 1 October 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Landlords and letting agents operating in Croydon are being warned they have three months to get their properties licensed or face possible legal action, following a decision by Croydon Council to roll out borough-wide selective licensing.

The selective licensing scheme, which is expected to cover about 30,000 private rented homes, will come into force on 1 October 2015, although applications are being accepted from today (1 July 2015). The scheme will last for five years.

In Croydon, all multiple occupied properties already need a licence under the borough-wide mandatory HMO and additional licensing schemes. The new selective licensing scheme, known locally as the ‘Croydon Private Rented Property Licence’ (CPRPL), will extend licensing to almost every house or flat let out to an individual, couple or single household anywhere in the borough. There are very few statutory exemptions.

The Council say they have implemented the new scheme to tackle significant and persistent problems with anti-social behaviour and to address poor property management. Before implementing the scheme, the council conducted a public consultation exercise during which 70% of private tenants and local residents said they supported the scheme whilst most landlords and letting agents who replied were opposed to the idea.

Landlords are being encouraged to apply early and benefit from a discounted fee of £350 per property from 1 July to 30 September 2015. After that, the fee will increase to £750 per property, which will become the highest selective licensing fee in London – 50% higher than in Barking & Dagenham, Newham & Waltham Forest.

Assuming about half of properties apply early and benefit from the discounted fee rate, the scheme could generate over £15 million in fees for Croydon Council, equating to £3 million a year over the next five years. All the money raised will need to be reinvested in the licensing scheme.

Commenting on the new scheme, Richard Tacagni, Managing Director at London Property Licensing said:

It is really important that the council widely publicise this new scheme to raise awareness amongst the many landlords who live outside the borough – either elsewhere in London, the country or abroad. I have recently spoken to several landlords who had no knowledge that their single-family rented properties in Croydon will soon need a licence. 

With different licensing criteria being adopted by each London Borough, this is becoming a major headache for landlords and causing a lot of confusion. That is why I set up the London Property Licensing website to help landlords identify what licensing requirements apply to their properties.

But could the scheme yet be derailed? After hearing rumours of a last minute Judicial Review, London Property Licensing approached Croydon Council for comment but they would neither confirm nor deny the report and instead referred us to the High Court. A council spokesperson said:

We are confident that our landlord licensing scheme is robust, lawful and will raise housing standards across the borough, and we’ll continue preparing to launch this scheme from 1 October.

In the meantime, Inside Croydon reported on 25 June 2015 that a Judicial Review of the Croydon selective licensing scheme had recently been submitted by a group of local businesses calling themselves the Croydon Property Forum. So it seems that there may be a legal challenge underway.

If you are from Croydon Property Forum and are willing to share more information about a possible Judicial Review, please contact us at info@londonpropertylicensing.co.uk.
    
In the meantime, landlords may wish to proceed with their licence application in order to benefit from the £400 discount currently on offer. Were the scheme to be quashed in any future legal challenge, any application fees already paid would have to be refunded.

For the latest information on property licensing in Croydon, you can visit www.londonpropertylicensing.co.uk/croydon or subscribe to our newsletter. Information is also available on the Council’s website.

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