Housing secretary rejects Croydon’s bid to extend selective licensing scheme

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Croydon Council’s bid to extend its selective licensing scheme has been rejected by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick who said it couldn’t prove how it would improve housing conditions.

The London borough operated one of the largest schemes in the UK, covering more than 36,400 properties, but according to a report in Inside Croydon, failures in the implementation of the original scheme were among the reasons given for refusing to renew it.

“In the council’s previous selective licensing scheme 2015-20,” the minister wrote, “the council did not demonstrate strong outcomes or efficient delivery of the scheme. This evidence further persuades me not to grant a further scheme.”

And he added: “The council did not provide an up to date comprehensive housing strategy, the overall objectives did not provide the level of detail necessary to satisfy me that making the designation will significantly assist them to achieve the objectives stated.”

£750 per property

Councillors approved the scheme’s renewal a year ago, which charged landlords £750 per property and generated £6 million in licence fees in the first year alone, but ended last September.

Council figures show that in 2016-2017 it made 3,473 inspections of private housing, yet for all those visits, according to a Freedom of Information response, inspectors didn’t record any information on the number of Category 1 hazards – the type which might have resulted in prosecution – in private rental properties.

While the council’s 2019-2020 accounts show it had raised £22 million under the scheme, auditors Grant Thornton were unable to say with any certainty how that money had been spent. Croydon Council has been roundly criticised in recent months for alleged financial incompetence across its departments and was recently handed a £120 million bail-out.

Jenrick has told councillors that they can re-apply for a licensing scheme although it has yet to make any announcement about its plans.

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