NLA tells councils to return HMO licence fees

iStock_000008970081_ExtraSmallAfter three recent judgements rescinding charges made for HMO licences on the grounds that they were excessive or unlawful, the National Landlords Association has written to every local council in England requesting that they return any overcharged fees to their respective landlords.

The first of the three judgements, Hemming vs Westminster City Council, resulted in the court ruling that fees may only cover the costs of licencing. That means that any fees that incur a profit for the council or are used to deter new providers from entering the market are deemed to contravene the European Services Directive (2009).

The full implications of the ruling are not yet known, as it may affect other local authority licences.

The second case, this time lodged against the Oxford City Council, related to the charging of a fee for the alteration of an HMO licence. Once again, the charging of such a fee was determined to be illegal and the fee was repaid.

In the third case, a private Bristol landlord was prosecuted by Bristol City Council for failing to supply an HMO for their Maisonette. The case relied on the provision that the Maisonette extended over 3 storeys of the building, because the entrance and hallway were not counted by the landlord.

The defendant was acquitted on the grounds that the lowest floor was not a storey, invalidating the case for the prosecution. The three rulings mean that landlords who have incurred fees:

  1. In excess of the cost of licences
  2. For altering licences
  3. For the lack of an HMO thanks to the existence of a third storey (which legal is not so)

may be due a rebate. The NLA is pressuring local authorities to actively contact any affected landlords and inform them that they may be due a refund. Many landlords may be due such refunds, according to the NLA. Richard Lambert, their CEO, stated that:

"The private rented sector is a valuable and growing part of local housing provision and it is essential that landlords are able to work with their local authorities constructively to meet housing need."

"However, this has been made difficult by some councils' obfuscations concerning licensing fees."

"In light of these recent rulings, we have asked local authorities to come clean about the level of fees they have charged private landlords, if they were entitled to make these charges, and when they will refund any money unjustly demanded."

"In writing to all local authorities in England, we are acknowledging the good working partnership many private landlords have with town halls, but making clear they should not be absorbing the costs of overcharging to support other council functions."

If you aren't due a refund, save money with a free credit check from Lettingref.

Share |

1 comment for “NLA tells councils to return HMO licence fees”

  1. Gravatar of Posted 19 November 2013 at 06:15:05

    Very good article, thank you for sharing.

Post a comment

Comments closed