Landlords threaten to take York council to High Court over ‘illegal’ housing project
The landlords are threatening to sue the council in High Court over plans to expand a housing permit program.
The York Residential Landlords Association claims that the York City Council’s proposals are “illegal and irrational”.
The council’s legal team is reviewing a letter from a homeowners association lawyer, a spokesperson said.
A consultation is underway on plans to expand the licensing regime for multiple occupancy houses (HMOs) in York. Currently, all homes with five or more people from more than one household – for example, shared student houses or beds – must be allowed to meet certain standards.
Under the proposals, the licensing regime would be expanded to include all small HMOs in areas of the city where there are high levels of shared housing – Hull Road, Guildhall, Fishergate, Clifton, Heworth, Micklegate, Osbaldwick council neighborhoods and Derwent and Fulford and Heslington.
The council says the proposals were brought forward because it wants to “make sure our city has a safe, well-managed and professionally managed private rental sector.”
But attorney David Smith, who specializes in residential property rights, sent a letter to the council on behalf of the York Residential Landlords Association.
He says members of the association are “deeply concerned”. They have three main concerns. They claim that:
- consultation is unlikely to meet the requirements of legal consultation
- the documents accompanying the consultation do not present a “clearly proven case” for the deployment of the device
- and parts of the proposed scheme are illegal.
He adds: “For these reasons, we consider that any decision to proceed with an additional HMO licensing regime on the basis of the as-is consultation is likely to be irrational, illegal and ultra vires. [beyond the legal authority of] the powers of the board.
“If a decision is made on this basis, we will advise our client to challenge it through judicial review in the Administrative Division of the High Court.”
“Our client remains happy to discuss alternatives to a licensing regime and to engage positively with the board.
“However, if the board decides to proceed with a licensing regime based on the consultation, our client will have no choice but to proceed with judicial review of that decision.”
What the board says
Tracey Carter, director of housing at the council, said the local authority had received the letter and it was being reviewed by the legal team.
She added, “All views expressed during the consultation on our licensing proposal are welcome and taken seriously.
“This is a statutory consultation which should solicit the views of all those who may be affected by the proposal, including tenants of HMOs and other private homes, landlords, businesses and relevant organizations. including the NHS, Citizens’ Advice and the city’s universities.
Read the consultation and respond to it by June 27.