Today's blog is by Richard Tacagni of London Property Licensing, specialist in helping residential landlords make sense of London property licensing.
Southwark Council is the latest borough set to implement new licensing schemes for private rented homes.
On 21 July 2015, the Council’s Cabinet approved borough wide additional licensing plus a network of smaller selective licensing areas spread across the borough. Both schemes will go live on 1 November 2015.
According to the Council, Southwark’s private rented sector has seen rapid growth and about 70,000 people now live in private rented homes – about a quarter of all residents.
The Council says that whilst much of the sector provides decent accommodation and is well managed, there are problems associated with parts of the sector arising from poor management, poor property conditions and issues of anti-social behaviour.
The Council says that their enforcement activity involving multiple occupied properties has increased by 289% over the past 5 years, leading to a 500% increase in the number of HMO prosecutions over the same period. Research by London Property Licensingplaces Southwark in the top five London councils when it comes to taking housing prosecutions.
Additional HMO licensing
The additional licensing scheme will extend House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing to all HMOs in the borough. Every private rented property shared by three or more people who are not all related will need to be licensed – an estimated 10,000 properties.
In certain parts of the borough, a new selective licensing scheme will extend property licensing to all private rented homes – including houses and flats rented by an individual or single household.
The scheme designation says it “…includes but is not limited to Walworth Road, Camberwell Road, Camberwell New Road, Camberwell Green, Coldharbour Lane, Denmark Hill, Camberwell Church Street, Bellenden Road, Southampton Way, Old Kent Road, Meeting House Lane, Queens Road, Rye Lane, Evelina Road, Lordship Lane (North), Lordship Lane (South)”.
Yet further investigation by London Property Licensing has found that the selective licensing scheme is far bigger than at first appears. The scheme extends across seventeen distinct areas including 134 streets and is estimated to include up to 5,000 properties.
This is one of the most complex licensing schemes to date and landlords and letting agents will need to study the arrangements very carefully.
Whilst the selective licensing fee has been set at £500 / property for up to five years, the additional licensing fee for HMOs has been set at £250 / bedroom, making it £1,250 for a five-bed shared house for up to five years. This will become one of the highest additional licensing fees in London.
Landlords who apply within the first six months will receive a 20% discount, with a further 20% discount offered to accredited landlords.
The council says there will be an online application process and all properties will be inspected before a licence is issued.
Councillor Richard Livingstone, cabinet member for housing at Southwark Council said:
"With the rapid expansion of the private rented sector in Southwark, it is vital that we’re on the side of private sector tenants and those responsible landlords who provide a good standard of housing, particularly where children are concerned. We just want to make sure this is the experience of everyone residing in a private property in Southwark.
"On its own licensing will not solve the issues created by poorly managed private rented accommodation. But it’s a step towards ensuring that rogue landlords are held accountable and curbing anti-social behaviour."
As my colleague investor discovered when a portfolio he purchased (literally just a week before this all kicked off), statutory periodic tenancies allow a month’s notice from the tenants’ side, so basically it’s left him with a load of empty rooms which he can’t view during the notice period, and likely voids after this lockdown we find ourselves in.
You may need to refer to my previous video slamming periodic tenancies; personally I would never allow a tenant to go periodic because I want to retain control of when my properties might come back to the market. After all, I want the best returns. I want the easiest life, so I choose to let my properties during the peak (in terms of demand and hence price) of the year.
So what happened In this instance? A lot of these properties were let on a multi-let (room-by-room) basis, and as it happened they were initially let on a fixed term which had since expired, so they were are “holding over” on a mo…
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Wow, just wow. That’s the feeling I have at the moment. The world, not just the UK, has been taken by storm. Such incredible, drastic measures have never been seen before, with everywhere I look trade has been affected. Restaurants, bars, places of worship; everything has been forced to close and people are banished to their homes en masse. It’s for good reason that I’ve not spoken out as yet, I’m still taking it all in - and the letting landscape is changing on an hourly basis!
What does this mean for you as a landlord?
Financial - Well, for starters your tenants’ employment may be affected. Do they still have a job? Will they be able to pay their rent? I for one have sent out my sympathy to all tenants and asked to reach out in confidence if they have been affected, this to preempt any cash flow issues when mortgages need to be paid. To further preempt I have asked all my mortgage lenders for a payment holiday just in case I will need it further down the line, this to buffer my cash …