Selective licensing scheme launched in RotherhamPublished Friday, 15th May 2015
A new licensing scheme, geared to driving up the standards of privately rented accommodation in Rotherham, is going ahead after a judge dismissed a legal challenge.
Eastwood, Masbrough, Dinnington and Maltby South East are to be designated as “selective licensing” areas under the 2004 Housing Act by the Council.
The aim of the scheme is to bring about long-term improvements to areas suffering from low housing demand, characterised by high rates of household turnover, empty properties, anti-social behaviour, poor quality housing and relatively low property values.
However, the scheme, which was originally approved by the authority last December, was challenged by the Rotherham Action Group Limited, a company formed by a group of landlords to make the challenge, which applied for a judicial review of the proposed scheme.
The application was dismissed on Thursday April 30 by Mr. Justice Stewart at Leeds Combined Courts after he found that the council had acted rationally and proportionately by deciding to introduce selective licensing in the areas in question.
Rotherham Action Group Limited were ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £23,128.40.
The ruling means that, from May 1, landlords of all privately rented properties within the identified areas must obtain a license for each property they own.
Licenses will last for a five year period and cost a maximum of £605, with reductions for accredited landlords who have already had their properties fully checked for safety.
Landlords who fail to comply with the licensing conditions can be fined, face rent repayment orders or the potential for the Council to take over the running of property, at direct cost to the landlord.
Advisory Cabinet Member for Housing and the Local Economy, Councillor Denise Lelliott, welcomed the court decision saying it would allow the authority to move ahead in improving the standard of private rented housing within the areas concerned.
She added: "A selective licensing scheme is not only for the benefit of tenants and landlords, but all residents within these areas.
"We are very pleased with the court’s decision and are grateful that the actions of the Council have had the opportunity to be independently assessed in this manner."
Landlords should ensure they apply for licences as soon as possible. Application forms can be obtained from the website along with application guidance, landlord guides and maps of the designated areas.