COVENTRY City Council has dismissed claims that its landlord licensing and accreditation scheme is ‘potentially unlawful’.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which represents private sector landlords, has written to the council outlining its objections to the Accredited Landlord Scheme, introduced in April.
It means landlords must attend a training event and gain accreditation, otherwise they are not entitled to obtain longer licences for houses of multiple occupation (HMO).
The RLA argues this unfairly penalises landlords based outside of the city but with properties in Coventry – because the ‘only way’ to become accredited is attending these courses in person.
It claims this is in breach of European Union directives and has called on the council to urgently review the scheme.
In its letter the RLA argues the scheme is ‘unfair and unlawful’ because longer HMO licences offer a financial and practical benefit for landlords.
It adds that it could breach EU directives, which state accreditation cannot discriminate based on region.
But the council says it will soon offer an online training programme, which would help landlords from outside the city.
The council’s Head of Planning and Regulation Tracy Miller said: “The Accreditation Scheme is free to all, however at the moment it requires attendance at a training event.
“It is recognised that not all landlords, agents etc are local and therefore we are developing an on-line training programme in order that we are fair and inclusive to all.
“Our Accreditation Scheme focuses on the issues relevant to Coventry, so it is a local scheme for local people.
“It is meant to be a proactive tool to reduce the amount of reactive enforcement and to professionalise the sector.
“We would never do anything unlawfully.”
The RLA now says it has similar concerns about the mandatory HMO licensing fee structure.
As part of the scheme, landlords must pay the entire licence fee upfront-even if a licensing application is still pending.
The RLA says licence fees should be split into two parts, the first part being an application fee and the second part being payable once the licence has been granted.
David Smith, policy director for the RLA said: “The RLA is deeply concerned at the serious legal questions that hang over the council’s licensing and accreditation scheme.
“We strongly urge the council to review this unjust scheme.”