£610 licence fee ‘will punish Telford landlords’
A businesswoman has attacked plans by Telford & Wrekin Council to introduce a new £600 licence for landlords, saying it will force people to sell-up and deepen the town’s housing crisis.
Consultation has just begun on the council’s selective licensing scheme, which is aimed at improving housing standards in privately rented homes and reducing associated problems - such as littering, anti-social behaviour, crime and fly-tipping.
The consultation process was due to start in April but was delayed until after the General Election. If it gets the go-ahead, the scheme would come into effect in November in several areas of Telford - Hadley and Leegomery, Malinslee and Hollinswood, Brookside and Sutton Hill and Woodside.
Karen Whitehead, managing director of KEW Accountants, based on Stafford Park, in Telford, who works with hundreds of small and medium-sized business clients across Shropshire, today attacked the plans saying the scheme was unfair, would lead to many people selling up and worsen the area’s housing problems.
“I am very much against the council’s plan,” she said. “We have many landlords as clients and finding this additional £610 for a licence is going to prove prohibitive and will only serve to punish the majority of law-abiding landlords out there.
“They say the aim is to raise the standard of accommodation in the areas of the town which have higher rates of disrepair, a higher turnover of tenants and problems with things like littering. But all this will do is hit landlords with extra costs.
“It will only force landlords into selling their property, drive up the cost of renting and make the housing shortage crisis we already have in the borough a whole lot worse.
“The council already has powers in place to deal with the problems they highlight as a requirement for bringing in this new licence. So why is this additional measure necessary?
“Some of my clients have already said they would rather sell than pay the £610 for this licence and feel as if they are being singled out and targeted by the council as another form of stealth tax. They also wonder exactly what the additional revenue will be used for.
“The council says it’s to raise standards of accommodation, but just how will that work?
“They also say it will help with the general improvement of the area by targeting fly-tipping, general littering, crime and anti-social behaviour, but why should landlords be singled out to pay what amounts to an additional tax to help deal with these issues? Is that not what we all pay our taxes for?
“If you privately own a property why on earth would it be your responsibility to pay an additional amount to everybody else for the general upkeep of the surrounding area?
“Such a scheme can only serve to produce higher rents in Telford and make it more difficult for people to afford rented housing.
“The whole thing is going to lead to fewer landlords with the knock-on effect of far fewer properties which in turn will mean higher rents.”
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.
Angie Astley, who is assistant director for neighbourhood and customer services on the council, said: “No decision has been made and a ten-week consultation on the proposal has only just begun.
"We would therefore encourage as many as people as possible to tell us what they think.
"They can find out more information about the proposal and complete a survey at www.telford.gov.uk/selectivelicensing
"It is only after the results of the consultation have been evaluated that any further decision would be made.”