Telford property landlords pledge £36,000 to fight council fees
Property landlords in Telford have raised £36,000 towards a judicial review over proposals for a controversial new £600 fee.
More than 100 landlords packed into the Oak Tree Centre in Lightmoor on Tuesday evening where the Wrekin Landlords Association continued the battle against Telford and Wrekin Council's selective licensing plans.
The plans, which the council have said are aimed at improving housing standards in private rented homes and cut problems like littering, anti-social behaviour, crime and fly tipping, are out for consultation until later this month.
The public meeting was attended by a handful of councillors and association chair and landlord Bernie Lewis, who has been leading the fight against the plans.
He said councillors had not been given the right facts and the plans were "flawed".
He said: "In case the our point has not been made enough we need to be ready to fight this through a judicial review.
"We have enough information to take it to a judicial review, because these plans are totally flawed.
"If the council don't see sense we need to be ready, people have made claims of how much money they will donate because they feel so strongly about this."
Mr Lewis said £25,000 was needed to start proceedings, and by the end of the evening landlords attending said they would pledge up to £36,000. Mr Lewis believes they can double that in their fight against plans.
Under the plans, private landlords in certain areas of Telford would have to be pay £600 for five-year licences to rent out their homes.
Telford & Wrekin Council says only parts of Hadley, Leegomery, Malinslee, Hollinswood, Brookside, Sutton Hill and Woodside are proposed to be affected by the licensing, a total of about 2,000 addresses.
The council said the scheme is not designed to make money, but to tackle anti-social behaviour and provide services like deep cleans of properties and safety checks.
Throughout the early part of the meeting councillors and landlords listened to speakers from the association who again attacked the plans.
Committee member Michael Gledhill said the scheme would cost the council money, adding it would make £1.2 million but would cost the council £2.4 million.
He also accused the council of already making their minds up.
He said: "In papers we have seen it seems like the council have already made their decision.
"When there was information about health services moving from the Princess Royal Hospital the leader said that a decision had already been made on that.
"It is a bit like the pot calling the kettle black really."
Landlords at the meeting said when paying tax they get a service in return, but this fee is offering nothing for them and argued the it is portraying a negative image of landlords.
Estate agent Dawn Clark addressed the landlords, and said they were being punished because of a small minority of bad landlords and tenants leaving rubbish out.
Crime figures included in the consultation were shown to attendees, with landlord David Lovegrow who is fighting the scheme saying it includes crime that isn't related to properties. He said government legislation says that landlords are not responsible for crime outside of their properties.
He said: "Crime will happen regardless of this fee.
"If the police can't sort it how can the landlords address the problem, it is ludicrous."
Another estate agent Kelly Davies also provided figures to show homelessness would rise, as landlords would have to increase rent prices.
Bringing the meeting to a close, Mr Lewis said: "We don't want any more bad properties, just like the council don't.
"This will drive out good landlords and let bad landlords take over the properties."
Consultation is still ongoing on the scheme and comments can be made until August 21.