Walsall Council’s Selective Licensing Proposals to Punish Energy Inefficient Properties
Walsall Council’s is currently consulting on plans to introduce a Selective Licensing Scheme in two parts of the Borough, seeking to clamp down on energy inefficient properties.
The plans out for consultation will mean that all landlords of private rented properties in the Willenhall and Town Centre (& adjoining areas) will need to apply and secure a licence for each dwelling.
Licence holders will be required to comply with certain conditions, including undertaking a training course within 12 months, explaining to tenants how to store and dispose of waste properly, and explaining to their tenants how to use the property’s facilities such as gas and electrical appliances.
Continuing to let a property without a valid licence in the designated areas will be a criminal offence.
Proposed Fee Structure
For dwellings, whether a house or flat, occupied by a single family household or by two persons sharing there is a licence fee of £714. If applying within the first 3 months of the scheme there is a 25% discount. There is also an additional £100 discount for landlords accredited with the NLA, as well as a £50 discount for online applications.
Fees are higher for HMOs depending on the number of people sharing, and the full proposed fee structure can be found here.
The EPC rating of the property will also impact upon the level of fee paid. Discounts are available for properties with an A, B or C rating. In contrast, properties rated E, F and G face penalty charges of up to £300.
Prohibiting Energy Inefficient Properties
However, the Council is not only looking to impact on energy efficiency through the costs of licencing fees. As part of the licence conditions, all properties must be brought up to and kept up to the Selective Licensing Property Standards (viewable here).
These property standards include the requirement for all properties to not only have an EPC, but to be in the top half of Band E. From 1st April 2018, the Council will refuse to licence any property with an EPC rating of F or G.
These clauses go above and beyond the national Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) that will come into force from April 2018. The NLA believes that they go too far and will be objecting in our consultation response. In particular we will highlight how these clauses will be detrimental to tenants who will face eviction, and landlords will be left with properties they can no longer rent out due to no fault of their own.
For example, some energy efficiency work requires third party permissions such as from the freeholder, mortgage lender, planning permission from the council or even consent from the tenants themselves. If this consent cannot be secured then under the MEES regulations they would be exempt. However, under Walsall Council’s plans if this consent cannot be secured then the property cannot be let without being in breach of the licencing scheme and the tenant would have to be evicted.
Full details of the proposed selective licensing scheme, including how to respond, can be found on Walsall Council’s website here. The consultation is open until 8th January.