Although large numbers of councils are making landlord licensing mandatory, another council has dismissed the scheme. Sandwell Council undertook a series of intensive consultations on introducing a compulsory landlord licence into their borough and despite uptake elsewhere, they have decided against implementing the scheme.
The six week consultation on whether their landlords within the six areas of the borough should be subjected to the licence, included sending out invitations for feedback to 15,000 people.
Nearly 300 people replied with their views made up of 154 landlords and letting agents, 127 residents and 13 businesses.
From the feedback, the council said that landlord licensing “did not show a strong enough link between anti-social behaviour and privately-rented homes for it to go ahead.”
However the council has committed to use different methods to enforce disreputable landlords who allow their properties to become decrepit, by bringing legal action against them to clean up their act.
A spokesperson for the council said: “There are a lot of good private landlords in Sandwell who recognise their responsibilities and care about their tenants – but we need to do more to deal with the minority who don’t.”
So as stated above, the council’s intention is to considerably step up their enforcement action against those landlords with houses in bad condition and work with other agencies to recognise anti-social behaviour, litter and slovenly properties within the private rented sector.
A landlords’ association sent in a response to the consultation and within it contained these two passages which could be used elsewhere, when other councils are considering implementation of such a regime:
“As a House of Commons briefing note recently stated: “As a general rule, landlords are not responsible for the actions of their tenants as long as they have not ‘authorised’ the anti-social behaviour. Despite having the power to seek a court order for eviction when tenants exhibit anti-social behaviour, private landlords are free to decide whether or not to take action against their tenants. The question of whether a landlord can be held liable for the nuisance of its tenants has been considered in a number of cases.
“It is established that no claim can be sustained in nuisance where the nuisance is caused by an extraordinary use of the premises concerned, for example by the tenants being noisy or using drugs on the premises. The rationale behind this approach is that it is up to the victim of the nuisance to take action against the perpetrator. To found an action in negligence against a landlord the victim must show that there has been a breach of a duty of care owed by the alleged perpetrator.”