If Labour cares at all about the housing shortage, how come our Labour-run Oxford City Council is the first in the country to introduce a compulsory licence for landlords, costing £362 per year?
Landlords of all houses in multiple occupancy will have to pay this in future to get their property inspected for "health and safety". Of course councils are already entitled to inspect rented properties to ensure they are safe, but until now they did so without charging the owner. After all, the council tax is supposed to cover that isn't it?
Desperate for a way of upping the council tax despite government capping policy, councils across the country are slapping all sorts of charges on this and that - parking charges, rental licences, you name it. It is just a form of disguised taxation.
If you wonder why councils are so desperate for money, many of them face huge bills for housing benefit claimed by floods of people arriving here from Romania, where 12% of the population has in the last few years upped and departed for richer parts of the EU (see last blog). Will the last person to leave Romania please turn off the lights?
When courts tell councils here that they have to pay, then they have to find the money somehow.
The impact of this new tax, sorry licence, on private rented accommodation will be bad in every respect. First of all, it will make renting more expensive because landlords will pass on the cost to the tenants. Labour regards all private landlords as baddies who make huge profits though that is far from the truth in many cases. A lot of landlords will struggle to find the extra £362 out of taxed income every year. Secondly, it will make rented accommodation scarcer. The licencing applies to houses with three or more occupants, so if the licence is not granted the landlord can simply chuck out one tenant and rent the house to two instead. Or rent it to a family with children, which counts as only two occupants.
It will also of course create stress and hassle. Probably quite a few houses will be denied a licence and the tenants evicted because some inspector regards the place as unsafe. Either that or the landlords will be dragged through the courts for not having fire-doors or something.
Labour's motto is still "If it moves, tax it."