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Local council wins courtroom battle to impose licensing scheme

Landlords have lost their legal battle to have a selective licensing scheme declared unlawful.

Now, following the High Court ruling, Thanet District Council in Kent will go ahead and introduce selective licensing in two of its wards, Margate Central and Cliftonville West.
The proposal to introduce a selective licensing scheme was agreed by the council at an extraordinary cabinet meeting on January 12, 2011, after an extensive consultation exercise by the authority which generated more than 700 responses.
But last year the Southern Landlords Association requested a judicial review on the grounds that the council had failed the legal tests by basing its decision on factual inaccuracies, irrelevant considerations and unsubstantiated assertions.
The High Court hearing took place over October 30 and 31, and Mr Justice Cranston has now handed down his judgment.

In it, he said that the Southern Landlords Association had “failed to establish any error of law in the council’s assessment and designation of its Margate Central and Cliftonville West wards as a selective licensing area”.
Thanet Council said the decision represents a significant victory. It said it is the first local authority in Kent to use selective licensing in order, it says, to regenerate the area.
The cabinet member for housing and planning, Cllr David Green, said: “The High Court decision is wonderful news for the people of Thanet, and I’m delighted with the ruling.
“The council is dedicated to the regeneration of Margate Central and Cliftonville West, and the selective licensing scheme represents a powerful legislative tool to help us do this. Throughout the process of High Court judgment, we’ve always been on the side of local people, and I’m very pleased that our stance has been vindicated.”

The Southern Landlords Association said it was ‘most concerned’ by the judgment, and said that the anti-social behaviour cited as a reason for introducing the scheme was not caused by landlords failing to control tenants within their properties.

Spokesman Peter Littlewood said: “The decision to take Thanet District Council to court had not been brought lightly. The SLA still considers that the council has not acted in the interests of the majority of law-abiding landlords or the residents of the Margate and Cliftonville area.

“In challenging the decision to introduce selective licensing, the SLA acted in the best interests of its members in the area who are affected by it.”

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