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Landlord fails in Upper Tribunal appeal over requirement to attend training on tenancy management

The Upper Tribunal has rejected an appeal by a landlord over the imposition of a condition on his licence requiring him to attend training on how to manage tenancies.

The appellant in Berg v Burnley Borough Council (HOUSING - selective licensing scheme) [2020] UKUT 91 (LC) owns a two-bedroomed mid-terrace house in Burnley.

He holds a licence under a selective licensing scheme brought into force by Burnley Borough Council in 2016 for five years pursuant to Part 3 of the Housing Act 2004.

Mr Berg’s appeal was from a decision of the First-tier Tribunal which varied a number of conditions attached to the licence.

The appeal related to one of those conditions only, which Mr Berg said Burnley was not entitled to impose.

It read as follows:

“The Licence Holder and/or their agent where an agent has been appointed to manage the property) must attend one Landlord Development Day covering how to manage tenancies whilst the licence is in force and must undertake any additional Property Management training courses that the Authority from time to time requires to be undertaken. Alternatively demonstrate to the Local Authority that similar, relevant training has been undertaken within the preceding 12 months.”

The appellant argued that the training condition should not be imposed:

  1. because it was contrary to the principles on which the Court of Appeal decided Brown v Hyndburn Borough Council [2018] EWCA Civ 242, and
  2. because Parliament could not have intended that it would be possible to impose upon landlords in selective licensing schemes a condition that was more onerous than the more limited type of training course that can be imposed on an HMO licence. The appellant argued that HMO licence conditions should be more onerous than those attached to selective licence scheme licences since HMOs were bigger and more complex to manage than the typical property subject to selective licencing.

Judge Elizabeth Cooke decided that the condition in question was a legitimate one. She said:

  • What Brown v Hyndburn does is to reveal the difference between the general power to impose conditions relating to the condition and contents of the property in section 67 of the Housing Act 2004, and the much more constrained ability in section 90 of the Act.
  • Once that is understood, then the implications for conditions relating to the management, use and occupation of the house concerned "are clear: both sections make a general provision enabling conditions that relate to the management, use and occupation of the property and follow that up with examples."
  • Accordingly, so long as the condition related to the management etc. of the property it was permissible. On that basis the training condition sought to be imposed in this case was “perfectly in order”.
  • She was not persuaded that the training condition was disproportionate, either in itself or when compared with the type of course referred to in section 67(2)(f).

The decision of the FTT was therefore upheld.

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