Landlords threaten Judicial Review over new selective licensing scheme in Luton

A threat of legal action against the upcoming selective licensing scheme in Luton is delaying its introduction, a meeting heard.
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The hold-up will impact the borough council’s ambitions to crack down rogue landlords in the town.

Under the scheme - due to be rolled out in five wards of Luton - the council can charge landlords a fee for a five-year licence in a similar way to HMOs.

The wards chosen are Biscot and Dallow, as well as parts of Farley, South, and High Town.

The scheme is designed to regulate HMOsThe scheme is designed to regulate HMOs
The scheme is designed to regulate HMOs

It was meant to be introduced from August 1, but an overview and scrutiny board meeting was told the start date has been postponed.

Luton has 1,185 licensed HMOs as of May 2020, according to the local authority.

Liberal Democrat Barnfield councillor David Franks said: “Although the scheme is going to go some way towards improving the quality of HMOs, it will do nothing to reduce the numbers that are coming forward.

“And we now learn that the implementation is delayed yet again by the threat of a judicial review by a group of local landlords.

“So how we’re ever going to make some progress on this I have no idea. It really is absolutely appalling.

"The group of landlords challenging it need to get their act together, so that we can get this resolved quickly.

“I just wanted you to know we’re still nowhere near getting the selective licensing scheme in place.”

The scrutiny board had asked the executive how it intends to regulate and reduce the concentration of HMOs in Luton.

Labour Challney councillor Tom Shaw, portfolio holder for housing, suggested officers report back six months after the selective licensing scheme is introduced.

Conservative Ickfield councillor Jeff Petts told the board: “On the registration of HMOs, we ought to be talking to councillor Shaw.

“He’s the one who’s supposed to be driving all this,” he said.

The council’s corporate director place and infrastructure Laura Church replied: “Councillor Shaw is driving this. And councillor Franks is right. The landlords have raised a threat of judicial review.

“We’re re-examining that position and will be coming back to executive as quickly as possible to resolve what we can do around the selective licensing scheme.”

The aim is to introduce selective licensing throughout the town, but its introduction is restricted to five areas initially.

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