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Residential Landlords Pay for Anti-Crime Licensing Regime

Selective licensing schemes in respect of private rented homes are an increasingly popular means of tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and one High Court case has underlined their legal and financial significance for residential landlords.

A London borough had introduced such a scheme under the Housing Act 2004 with the objective of ensuring that licences were only granted to private landlords who were ‘fit and proper persons’. Licensing fees were chargeable and conditions could be imposed relating to management of particular properties. Any failure to comply with the licensing regime could result in prosecution and an unlimited fine.

An action group of landlords and developers mounted a judicial review challenge to the scheme, arguing that they had not been properly consulted. However, in rejecting the claim, the Court noted that the proposal had been widely publicised in advance on the council’s website, in the press and elsewhere. Reasonable steps had been taken to consult all those affected by the scheme.