A high court judge has quashed a new selective licensing scheme for landlords in Accrington after a judicial review and ordered the council to pay £100,000 in legal costs.
Hyndburn Landlords action group, which represents landlords controlling more than 1600 properties within the scheme, argued the new scheme introduced on October 1, 2010 was too large to be managed effectively.
The scheme aimed to improve standards of private landlords in east and west Accrington.
The action group applied for a judicial review in April after negotiations with Hyndburn Council broke down over the scheme’s size and management.
At a hearing at Manchester High Court, Mr Justice McCombe ordered the licensing scheme to be quashed, citing the council’s failure to consult properly on the scheme and ordered the council to pay full costs.
Paul Brown, spokesman for Hyndburn Landlords, said: “Such schemes should not be an exercise of bureaucracy but rather targeted measures aimed at improving specific problem areas.
“Hyndburn Council’s ‘blanket’ scheme had been introduced on a scale almost 10 times larger than any other in the country, without any meaningful democratic discussion or reasoning.
“Whilst satisfied with the decision, Hyndburn Landlords and its members remain wholly disappointed that such a legal action was necessitated by the failure of political parties and officers of the council to listen to representations.
“Hyndburn Landlords have always maintained a willingness to assist with the preparation and implementation of workable solutions to improve the private rented sector within the borough.”
Council chiefs will now review the ruling before deciding on their next move. They will make arrangements to refund landlords who have paid for licences.
Councillor Clare Pritchard, cabinet member for housing, said: “The council is very disappointed that the High Court decided in favour of Hyndburn Landlords on the grounds of insufficient consultation and as a result quashed the Selective Licensing Scheme, but respects the court’s decision.
“In the meantime the council wishes to reassure residents and tenants that they remain the council’s number one priority and will use other legal powers where private landlords provide sub-standard accommodation.”
£100k bill for council after landlord licensing defeat
A high court judge has quashed a new selective licensing scheme for landlords in Accrington.