HMO Landlords win application for Judicial Review

Latest Landlord News by: Madalena Penny

Controversy surrounding local licensing and planning policies imposed on landlords in the private sector has again stepped up a pace.  Hundreds of landlords have won the right for a judicial review over HMO selective licensing schemes imposed by local authorities.

Last week 350 landlords in the Accrington area were delighted when they won the right to be heard in High Court over licensing actions enforced on 1,326 HMO’s by Hyndburn Council.  Claiming the council did not consult properly on the move, the landlords now aim to make the local authority explain their decision in court.  A counterclaim made by the council claiming the landlords application was out of time was thrown out by the court.

In April this year Oxford, Milton Keynes, Charnwood and Newcastle Councils took the government to task after gaining permission to launch a judicial review.  The four local authorities claim that the government failed to consult the appropriate planning authorities before altering the GDPO (General Permitted Development Order).  However the High Court rejected their objections.  As a result of the Coalition’s HMO reform, Oxford City Council has now reviewed their planning policy to avoid legal recompense from landlords.

Further south in Margate, Thanet Council is also under pressure from the Southern Landlords Association.  Accusing the council’s actions not only to be totally inappropriate, but also illegal, The SLA have reluctantly, also applied to the High Court for a judicial review over selective licensing imposed by the council.

Under Thanet Council’s scheme all rental properties in the designated areas will have to apply for a license, paying the appropriate fees.  Claiming the imposed licensing policy is to control the anti-social behaviour by landlords, the council believe they can force their tenants to comply with the landlord’s rules.  If the landlords don’t, the council withdraws their license to rent.  The SLA have argued that no proof has been offered to back up the local authority’s claims to link anti-social behaviour in the designated areas to the mismanagement of private landlords.

Under HMO reform, without the enforcement of an Article 4 Direction, local authorities could be liable for compensation due to financial loss by landlords.  If the councils in question are found to be enforcing improper licensing/planning policy by High Court, landlords could sue for loss of revenue and costs incurred by the improper use of licensing and planning schemes.

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