Time to stop blaming landlords

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Re: “Burnley Council demands £650 in licensing fees from Burnley landlords for each property owned and rented in Trinity Ward.”

The first demand notice from Burnley Council has now been received by private landlords renting properties in Trinity Ward. Other licensing is likely to follow for Gannow and Queensgate.

A similar fee was demanded five years ago for Trinity, aimed at apparently identifying rogue landlords and ensuring empty and poorly maintained houses were brought to a higher standard.

We were advised the last licensing fee for Trinity ward, together with Burnley Council’s overall management, resulted in just three landlords being prosecuted over the past five years and many terraced properties in the area still remain in a poor standard, empty and unwanted, even when refurbished, as there are simply too many two bedroom terrace properties in the area.

Nevertheless, Burnley Council has chosen to now post demands again to all landlords in Trinity Ward to pay, in April, £650 per property, for a licensing fee to cover yet another five years, when the last five years of the scheme has made little difference to the area, for landlords or private owners.

Some landlords are now facing fees for thousands of pounds for properties in Trinity Ward alone; while the licensing scheme is already being considered in Gannow and Queensgate

with similar fees being charged.

These extortionate costs have to be included in landlords’ overheads costs and paid for by the rents they receive, which means rents could rise to pay the council’s costs!

There are already adequate powers given to Burnley Council by the Government to deal with the

relatively small number of so-called rogue landlords and this licensing scheme has not demonstrated in the past five years that the council has significantly improved the local area.

A figure of £850,000 has been mentioned as the amount Burnley Council could receive in licensing fees from landlords across the licensing areas now being considered. This is an extortionate amount of money to apparently cover the management and any overhead costs Burnley Council says it would require to ensure these schemes are self-funding. A management charge, if even warranted, should be open to competitive tendering from outside consultants, who are not burdened by the excessive overhead costs at Burnley Council and should be able to offer a more realistic management fee.

What Burnley Council does not seem to recognise is that in some areas there are too many small terraced properties that people no longer aspire to own or rent and no amount of blaming the odd rogue landlord or offsetting council overheads costs by overcharging for a landlord licensing fee, is going to resolve the situation. Apparently 50% of Burnley properties consist of terraced houses and it is unlikely this type of property will ever be in such demand again in future, in these locations.

Landlords run a business just like many others and, as such, have to pay mortgages, employ contractors to maintain properties, pay council tax, National Insurance and income/corporation tax like any other business and these licensing fees are an unnecessary cost, which will have to be funded from rents charged to tenants.

Burnley Council needs to desperately rethink its responsibilities, accept the reality of the situation in the 21st Century and repossess/demolish more properties in low demand areas and make a current liability an asset once again and stop blaming and overcharging landlords!

Burnley Landlord