DURHAM SELECTIVE LICENSING CLAIMS -  "FAKE NEWS"

Why Durham Selective Licensing Claimed Benefits are "Fake News"

DCC Claim


“An increase in well-managed and maintained housing through the scheme is hoped to result....”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • The key words here are “hoped to result in” as the proposal, in its entirety, has no meaningful analysis of the causes of any problems identified and, other than charging private Landlords a Licence Fee, presents no real remedies or solutions.


  • The proposal contains no measures by which the scheme could be measured or judged a success or a failure.


  • The proposal presents hopes and aspirations and nothing more!



DCC Claim


“An increase in well-managed and maintained housing through the scheme is hoped to result…..”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • The key words here are “hoped to result in” as the proposal, in its entirety, has no meaningful analysis of the causes of any problems identified and, other than charging private Landlords a Licence Fee, presents no real remedies or solutions.


  • The proposal contains no measures by which the scheme could be measured or judged a success or a failure.


  • The proposal presents hopes and aspirations and nothing more!



DCC Claim


“An increase in well-managed and maintained housing through the scheme is hoped to result in ….. reduced anti-social behaviour …….”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • The proposal shows no causative link between antisocial behaviour and private rented properties.


  • Rather, it simply postulates that the number of rental properties has grown, and some areas experience antisocial behaviour so one must be the cause of the other.


  • Over 50% of DCC’s reported ASB complaints are for dogs barking!


  • DCC’s ASB figures include Durham City – a high student population area with resultant high ASB complaints – but this area is not included in the Selective Licencing Scheme. This is certainly misleading and there must be questions as to whether this has been done deliberately.


  • Statistics on ASB are drawn from various sources and these are from very different time periods so the figures should not be used cumulatively as this could be misleading and inaccurate.


  • In areas where ASB does exist, DCC’s proposal makes no analysis as to the cause of these problem or what solutions there may be to it.



DCC Claim


An increase in well-managed and maintained housing through the scheme is hoped to result in fewer empty properties …..”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • Again, the proposal contains no evidence that the scheme would result in fewer empty properties.


  • The scheme is likely to increase the number of empty properties and reduce the number of properties in the private rented sector. This is because …


  • The additional cost of licencing will the final straw for many Landlords who are already economically challenged by the loss of interest relief, increased arrears resulting from the change to Universal Credit and the massive effects of Covid 19.


  • Selective Licencing Schemes elsewhere in the UK have seen increased property sales as Landlords exit the rental market.


  • Selective Licencing Conditions are such that many Landlords will be unable to “take a view” on some prospective tenant applications. The consequences of getting a “bad” tenant are such that they are unlikely to take any risk. This will mean houses staying empty for longer and an increase in homelessness!


  • These unintended consequences of Selective Licencing are not identified and are not considered anywhere in the proposal.


  • These issues should have been identified and examined as there is significant evidence available from schemes elsewhere.



DCC Claim


“a selective licensing scheme across the county ....... would ensure good standards of private rental properties.”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • The proposal contains no evidence of poor standards in private rental properties.


  • The proposal doesn’t include Council/Housing Association properties or those in owner occupation. Where areas of poor housing are identified, there is no analysis of which sector causes the problems.


  • The Council already has significant powers to address poor standards of private rented property and the introduction of Selective Licencing will add nothing to these.


  • Experience of other Selective Licencing schemes has shown that all that is achieved is that the good landlords, who sign up for the scheme, have their properties inspected, while the bad/rogue landlords, who are very unlikely to sign up, will not. Hence, little enforcement action required and no improvement to overall property or management standards.


  • Without any measure or targets it will be impossible to assess if this “objective” is achieved. As such, this is little more than a hope or an aspiration.



DCC Claim


“The proposed scheme ... covers 64% of the private rented sector (PRS) in the County


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • The Council’s Selective Licencing proposal document, based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, estimates the total number of Private Rented Households in the County as 56,232.


  • “The scheme would apply to approximately 51,000 properties across the county …”


  • 51,000 as a percentage of 56,232 is 90.7%


  • These figures come from the Report to Cabinet, dated 15-1-20, and are based on figures from the Office for National Statistics.


  • By the time DCC published their “Evidence” Document in early February, the estimated number of Private Rented Households had increased to 68,516! This still equates to 74% - not 64%.


  • Are DCC really saying that that over 75% of the county’s private rented properties are in “areas where there is low demand, a significant or persistent problem caused by anti-social behaviour, poor property conditions, or high levels of migration, deprivation or crime.”



DCC Claim


“Selective Licencing Will … Provide support and training to Landlords and Tenants”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • Funds raised via licence fees can only be used for the administration of the scheme. Tenant and/or Landlord training would not be an admissible as part of the administration of the scheme.


  • The cost of training to cover tenants of 51,000 properties is likely to be extensive and there is no money itemised in Durham County Council’s budget to cover the cost of this.


  • There is no mention of what the training will cover, for either Landlords or Tenants, desired outcomes are not identified and, yet again, there are no measures as to how the outcomes are to be measured.



DCC Claim


“Selective Licencing Will.. improve the health and wellbeing of tenants”


DURHAM PLuSS Response


  • No, we are not making this up, this is a claim that was included in a leaflet delivered to every Council Taxpayer in the County.


  • How any Selective Licencing Scheme could deliver on such a broad and nebulous claim is difficult to imagine.


  • Evidence from other large Selective Licencing Schemes shows that good Landlords comply and sign up to the schemes and the level of remedial work, resulting from initial inspections, is very low. However, bad Landlords, with the problem properties, don’t sign up. So, any health or wellbeing benefits are likely to be very limited.



if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch by email at contact-us@durhampluss.co.uk