1 Mar 2022

Guest Post by Des Taylor Casework Director at Landlord Licensing & Defence

*For landlords every where, SHARE far and wide*

Have you ever wondered why a council has an Additional HMO Licensing or Selective Licensing Scheme that expires and there is a gap before the next one?

The answer is timing and nothing more sinister, BUT, read on

It can have very SERIOUS consequences.

This will some time soon be tested for the reasonable excuse defence in front of a judge and it will be a field day.

2019: A Landlord applies for additional HMO licensing under valid and operational Additional HMO Licensing Scheme and his application is duly made.

2019: the council follows up on floor plans etc. questions answered and waiting for draft licence to be issued.  No news from officer and time ticks on – councils can take years to respond and issue it. He waits as the time since applying and the questions had been 9 months.

2020: 2 years ago they asked their questions and got their satisfactory answers and stated they would come back to him.

Covid comes, no thought of licence, landlord sure they will get to him eventually. Wait wait.

2022: landlord curious and now thinks it’s been a long time and thinks it’s time for an update as it has really been a long time.

2022: So chase the licence.

Council response is the licence has not been processed, please reapply using new website and we will refund the application fee.

Strange! He thinks.

He seeks advice.

He questions this logic as the new application will negate the old application and put the landlord at risk of enforcement – civil penalties and then rent repayment orders, and he asks the council to please process old licence for his protection.

COUNCIL response:

At the end of 2020 the scheme ended and as we had not issued the licence we then could not.

The new scheme came in March 2021 and the landlord has been unlicensed since then and should apply and he is at risk of enforcement and rent repayment orders.

The Defence by council, is to state that it is the landlord’s duty to know.

Funny that they didn’t feel it their duty to let all the unprocessed applicants know.

Any tribunal judge would expect to judge reasonable excuse.  It needs to be tested and our team is ready to do so.

They also would be foolish to award a rent repayment order. We are ready to test this too.

If you have made a Selective Licence Application or Additional HMO Licence Application, and you are still waiting for a response from more than 6 months ago, check your scheme didn’t finish and start again.

If it did,

Before you call the council or do anything seek legal advice. 

You may want to let things sleep whilst you get everything in order.

You will need that reasonable excuse to be strong, don’t weaken it by speaking to the council and unwittingly self-incriminating.

Ayway, the law on this is clear at Section 64 of the Housing Act 2004 where it states: 

64 Grant or refusal of licence

(1) Where an application in respect of an HMO is made to the local housing authority under section 63, the authority must either—

(a) grant a licence in accordance with subsection (2), or

(b) refuse to grant a licence.

Step by step you can beat this unfortunate entrapment that inadvertently has come about.

Don’t you love it when things are so kind and unforgiving.

Please share this far and wide with landlords.

They never want to be caught out like this.

Thanks for reading!

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