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Council was ‘unreasonable’ when it limited a landlord’s licence

A local authority had acted unreasonably when it limited a landlord’s licence on his properties to only one year.

That was the decision of the Upper Tribunal in a case involving Waltham Forest London Borough Council.

The landlord owned several flats that were let to tenants. From April 2015, the local authority's area was designated as a selective licensing area.  The landlord failed to apply for licences in time and was fined £10,000.

In September 2016, the authority granted him a licence for one year for his flats; normally they were granted until 2020.

It justified the reduced term licence on the basis that the delay allowed the landlord to remedy the issues that had led to the late applications and to allow his conviction for failing to apply to become spent.

The First-tier Tribunal found in favour of the landlord and extended the licence in respect of each property so that they expired on 31 March 2020. It found that the convictions related to a single failing and that there was no other evidence that he was not a "fit and proper" person to be a landlord, as there was no evidence that he had failed to comply with any other regulatory requirement.

It accepted that the landlord had been unaware of the licensing system until November 2015. It could see no reason to limit the duration of the licence and held that it was unreasonable to grant a reduced term licence simply to allow a relevant conviction to become spent.

The Upper Tribunal (Lands) has upheld that decision.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of commercial property law.