A group of landlords has won a judicial review against Hyndburn District Council in Lancashire. The landlords, who own 1,326 properties between them, took on the council after a selective licensing scheme was introduced in March 2010.
Mr Justice McCombe held that the council had failed to consult, had not followed the relevant guidance and had made misrepresentations to the Secretary of State. He therefore held that the decision to designate an area for selective licensing and the resulting designation were both unlawful.
Without sufficient information being given to the landlords in question, it did not allow for any intelligent and meaningful discussions to take place during the consultation period. Canvassing opinions on the general principles of selective licensing is simply not enough.
The Hyndburn landlords were praised for their commitment to their tenants and the services they provide to them.
The Housing Act makes provision for selective licensing of private rented accommodation, but councils have to make a robust case for it - for example, anti-social behaviour by tenants, over-crowding, run-down properties or neglectful landlords could be reasons cited. The Hyndburn case will have acted as a warning to other local authorities not to introduce selective licensing without proper consultation.