In November last year, court judgments clarifying the cloudy areas surrounding licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupation were issued. The ways in which local licensing fees should be worked out were also clarified. As a result, the National Landlords Association (NLA) contacted every local authority in England to inform them of the new clarifications.
The NLA took action following three judgments affecting local authorities in England. Results of these rulings indicate that a number of landlords could have been overcharged for licensing fees and therefore would be entitled to a refund.
Three local authorities – namely Dover District Council, Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council and Ipswich Borough Council have replied to the NLA suggesting that they should not have charged fees for certain licenses. All three authorities have said that will appropriately deal with any refund requests.
Following the lead of these authorities, the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council is to also offer refunds to affected landlords. In all areas, landlords are urged to contact their councils to enquire about a possible refund.
CEO of the NLA Richard Lambert welcomed the news, but said there were still more councils in need to follow suit. Lambert said that, “it is a positive move by Bradford and the other councils who have replied,” and that the NLA “appreciate the time they’ve taken to look into the court cases and change their policies accordingly.”
Councils to offer license fee refund
Mr Lambert went on to say that “the NLA exists to promote and support a fair and equitable private-rented sector” and that “central to this is ensuring a balanced relationship with the council and community.” This in turn, Lambert feels is important, “so that landlords consider that they are treated in an even handed manner in respect of their responsibilities and costs.”
Finally, Lambert expressed that the NLA “want to build up a comprehensive picture of local authority licensing costs and liabilities across the country, particularly in light of these court judgments which have significant bearing on councils’ charging practices.”