Hull City Council policy change could spark homeless disaster
A new policy from Hull City Council will affect landlords’ operations and could spark a homeless crisis through repossessions and significant rent increases in any of Hull’s twenty-six thousand rental properties.
The Humber Landlords’ Association (HLA) is taking Hull City Council to the High Court with support from two national associations - the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) and National Landlords Association (NLA). Legal experts have been instructed and confirm this policy change undertaken by Hull City Council is illegal.
Hull City Council is the only authority in the UK to implement a policy scrapping an informal improvement notice procedure, replacing it with a formal notice which means that should a tenant report an issue at their property, the landlord will immediately be charged a minimum fee of around £250, for minor issues which would usually be managed quickly and easily.
The HLA has consulted with both the RLA and NLA who have confirmed Hull Council will be the first local authority to go against Government guidance and both national associations share the HLA’s fear that this policy could put at risk both tenants and landlords in Hull.
Danny Gough, Chair of the Humber Landlords’ Association (North Bank) says:
“The HLA is concerned for tenants who risk losing their homes due to this policy change set out in Hull City Council’s proposal.”
“The most concerning aspect is at least sixty-five per cent of landlords in Hull are governed by the banks with mortgages on their properties. Many of these banks are looking for any reason to increase lending rates and to protect their assets. Receiving a formal notice could trigger concern for the banks who can, in-turn recall the loans, forcing landlords to sell their property portfolio, making tenants homeless.”
“Following discussions, Hull City Council is refusing to recognise any other local or national accreditation scheme. Instead offering landlords a way to avoid formal enforcement notices by joining an exclusive Council-run accreditation scheme called HALS. It requires landlords to pay an annual fee and they must also enhance safety measures in their rental properties beyond the legally required standard - in-line with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO). This will include: full re-wiring of older properties, mains powered smoke alarms, escape windows and fire protection between each floor. Not only will this cause major upheaval for tenants living in the properties while improvements are carried out, it will also create costs starting at £2,000 per property, which could increase rents.”
“The HLA fully understands that Hull City Council aims to protect tenancies but it already has powers to prosecute rogue landlords and agrees that any landlord failing to manage their property correctly should be dealt with accordingly.”
“The Government has given ALL local authorities powers to issue private landlords with penalty charge notices of up to £30,000. This assures tenants that if their landlord is not fit and proper, they can be dealt with by the local authority quickly and easily.”
“We feel that Hull City Council is simply looking to raise revenue rather than to protect the tenants and we have sent several Freedom of Information requests asking about this policy change. Unfortunately to date, no sensible reason has been supplied.”
“The HLA is urging Hull City Council to allow other professional organisations to be allowed the same exception as the landlord registered under the HALS scheme, but our request has been denied. This means professional landlords who provide good quality properties that are safe, legal and decent will be treated in the same way as the small minority of rogue landlords.”
“Our Barrister is preparing paperwork for the Judicial Review and has confirmed this policy change undertaken by Hull City Council is illegal and against Government guidance. This means that the only way to stop this policy change is to take it to the High Court. The HLA has the full support from the RLA and NLA and we are prepared to pay the costs of up to £100,000 to fight this case. Hull City Council has confirmed the Judicial Review will be defended and they are prepared to waste tax payers’ money. When Hull City Council lose this case, they could incur costs of around £60,000 and will need to re pay the HLA for its legal representatives of a similar amount.”