Council threatens landlords with £20k fines

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Another local authority has set out its proposals to introduce selective landlord licensing, with hefty £20,000 fines for those who do not fall into line.

Doncaster council is now consulting on the proposals for licensing in the Hexthorpe area because of alleged tenancy management and anti-social behaviour problems.

The consultation started this week and will take 12 weeks. If it is approved - and in most recent cases involving local authorities the original proposals have been rubber-stamped after consultation - the new regime will begin in December.

Landlords or their agents will have to apply for a five year licence costing £500 for each rented property. Any landlord letting property without a licence would be prosecuted with fines of up to £20,000.

The council argues that licensing schemes offer benefits for tenants in particular - for example, landlords have to provide a tenancy agreement, maintain health and safety measures and commission regular gas and electric checks. 

Doncaster also wants the licence conditions to specify the quality and speed of property repairs, maximum numbers of occupiers, security, management and even the external appearance of the property. As has become the norm with councils where licensing already exists, landlords face fines of up to £5,000 for each condition which is not met. 

The council insists the measure will help landlords, too, by reducing voids and tenant turnover, encouraging a higher standard of property and improving the reputation of the sector and the area.

There has been a long-running debate within the industry about licensing, with almost all agents and landlords suggesting that the system as applied currently does little but raise funds for councils and government. Some industry bodies advocate accreditation as a more effective alternative.