Picture the scene, central government is coming down hard on small time landlords making it harder and more expensive to buy properties and manage them; with the 3% hike in stamp duty, the clause 24 tax (aka tenant tax) and the continued lack of investment in development, the housing market is being slowly suffocated. Less landlords are investing, no new houses are being built and our population begins to grow.
Those who read my posts regularly will know i’m not the best at maths, but nothing about this equation adds up as it is. So imagine my surprise when i read that Manchester City Council, in its wisdom, have proposed to reintroduce Selective Licensing.
Those of you who are newer to the market may not remember the omnishambles of this 5 year long Manchester City Council experiment from 2006- 2011 which ended in a tail between the legs press release statement of:
“Both the legislation and the City Council’s approach to introducing Selective Licensing (SL) have created difficulties. Members and landlords have rightly criticised the scheme as being overly bureaucratic, with too much effort focussed on the paperwork and administration and not enough on tackling the poorer landlords through enforcement and prosecution.”
So What is Selective Licensing?
You can read Manchester City Councils Description here, their idealistic view is that introducing licensing to properties in the most deprived areas will raise living standards and make the areas a better place.
In reality the council are charging Landlords £500-£750 per property to do a DBS check, and look at paperwork that is already required by law: a tenancy agreement, deposit protection, a gas safety certificate, an electrical safety cerificate and proof that smoke alarms are fitted. You can see all the requirements here
If we set aside the councils blinkered and narrow view of the causes of deprivation for a short time and look at just the timing of this proposal. It couldn’t have come at a worse time, demand is increasing across the city, rents are already increasing 4 times faster than wages, LHA rates are frozen and the population continues to grow.
The additional licence fee and bureaucracy will only add the pressure for increased rents. This will have an extra burden on LHA tenants (the least better of) having to pay additional top ups to their rent. This causes extra work for landlords/having to collect the money and in many cases extra cost at removing the tenant due to non payment adding extra pressure on the courts and the council’s homelessness due to their duty of care.
Manchester city council have tried licensing before and made a complete mess of it by there own admission. They already have sufficient powers to ensure that rental property is of a good standard and they fail to use them. The introduction of this licence fee is another way of punishing the decent landlords who provide good quality homes because of the minority of bad landlords. The council should be asking tenants to report issues of disrepair directly to them and acting on it instead of hiding behind their past errors and failures and supporting tenants in need.
The failure of the council to encourage and proceed with the development of these areas has meant a considerable loss of council tax revenue but more importantly the loss of suitable housing for those who wish to live in the area. It has also had a effect of degrading the areas because of the unsightly mess these areas are left in whilst waiting for the council to enforce any action.
This is all happening as the council fail to resolve the homelessness in the area and the spiralling cost of temporary accommodation read about that here
Now, Manchester City Council want to make the lives of decent, honest and hardworking landlords even more difficult and expensive. And the lives of tenants more difficult.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant I urge you to have your say in the consultation, tell the council NO TO LICENSING and tell them how they can better help you in creating a nicer and brighter North Manchester