31 Aug 23
Landlords who are under Birmingham’s new selective licensing scheme zone are being urged to sign up because enforcement starts next week – and rumours on social media say they don’t have to bother.
Birmingham City Council’s scheme is the biggest in the country covering up to 50,000 properties across 25 wards in the private rented sector.
However, some social media groups say just 15% of landlords have applied so far but not applying for a licence could be an expensive mistake with a hefty fine, one firm warns.
Landlord Licensing & Defence says that since the scheme is already in place there are no excuses for not having a licence. It is a criminal offence if they have not completed an application by Monday 4th September.
The firm’s housing enforcement and casework director, Des Taylor, warns: “There is no reasonable excuse for not making the application no matter what you are waiting for or are lobbying the council.
“The scheme is in place which means it is the law – and an offence is committed as soon as you do not make an application in the required time.”
He says that the ‘reasonable excuse’ defence has only ever been successful in a handful of cases out of several thousand with judges looking at every appeal and finding that not applying for a licence in time does not offer a defence.
Mr Taylor said: “Protesting, disagreeing, or waiting for responses from the council about any issues or anything else are not reasonable excuses.
“If a licence is required within the selective licensing area, then that licence must be applied for when required.”
He adds: “Any social media group that tells you something different should not be followed. The social media ‘experts’ telling landlords not to license their properties are inciting them to commit a criminal offence under the Housing Act 2004.
“There’s a simple question to ask if someone is saying you don’t have to apply – and it is this: Is the person who is giving me the advice properly qualified to give it?
“And if they’re not qualified to give it through their experience or knowledge, then are they prepared to pay your fine when they tell you not to apply or to protest?
“If the person advising you that you don’t have to apply is willing to pay your fine then that’s great, feel free to listen to them, however, even if they do pay your fine you could still have a criminal record.”
Mr Taylor says he has been told that social media sites are posting that just 15% of landlords have made applications but he warns that those who haven’t applied are now looking at fines of up to £30,000.
He said: “Landlords in Birmingham should not run the risk and they should remember the council does not care about your circumstances – the law says you need a licence, so get one.”
Assistance to landlords in applying for any type of property licence is available from multiple professional firms including Landlord Licensing & Defence.”
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