It has been reported that Norwich have recently increased their licensing fees (for HMOs) by over 500%
David Smith of Anthony Gold Solicitors has explored the legality of this increase....... Within the Housing act 2004, authorities are allowed to charge fees to cover their costs in relation to running a licensing scheme. It may be reasonable to expect therefore that smaller cities with fewer Statutory HMOs might find it more expensive to administer licensing than those such as Oxford, where economies of scale may provide savings.
None-the-less, this obscures some interesting extrapolations of what is happening across the country as Statutory HMOs awarded initial licenses come up for renewal at a time when local authority budgets are under pressure. Here in Oxford, the additional licensing arrangements are a thinly disguised mechanism for funding a department under fiscal constraint. By their own admission, the original five year fees charged for statutory HMOs provided a lump of money at the front end, but the cost of chasing the target group for the scheme, "dodgy landlords" has been greater than anticipated so the income stream has dried up before being able to fund renewals. Interestingly enough, the justification for annual fees, during consultation, was around the inability of the authority to manage its budgets with five years' income.
I am much more interested in what will happen when Oxford City have "hoovered up" all the fees from law abiding landlords (and caused inflationary increase in rents as a by-product) and have still not made an impact on the less scrupulous end of the private rental market.