Selective licensing review to look into impact on landlords and tenants

With some experts arguing that selective licensing impacts law-abiding landlords more than criminal ones, the government has now agreed to review the rules.

Last week, the Ministry for Housing, Councils and Local Government announced that it would be launching a consultation to look at how effective selective licensing schemes are at targeting rogue landlords and poor private rented housing conditions for tenants.

The move comes after pressure from industry professionals such as the Residential Landlords Association (RLA), which argues that selective licensing is not the optimum way of increasing standards in the industry, as legitimate professional landlords will be stumping up the cost of the licence while those operating illegally might continue to flout the rules and operate under the radar.

Opposition to landlord licensing

ARLA Propertmark has also raised concerns about the scheme, and is welcoming the government’s review. David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “Licensing doesn’t work, and it never has done.

“The Government’s aims are laudable. We’re all striving for the same end goal of improving the private rental sector for consumers, but these policies are impractical.”

“Licensing means councils spend all their time administering schemes, rather than enforcing against rogue, criminal landlords,” he added. “A fact which has been proven time and time again over the last decade.”

The announcement comes after the Ministry of Housing also revealed updated guidelines relating to HMOs (houses in multiple occupation), with the new regulations set to take effect for any landlord letting out an HMO from 1 October this year.

Selective licensing explained

All landlords operating within an area where selective licensing is in force must hold a licence to rent out their property or properties. While the scheme only applies in certain parts of the UK, local authorities can have selective licensing put in place if the area has low housing demand, persistent antisocial behaviour issues, poor property conditions, or high levels of migration, deprivation or crime.

It is up to landlords to find out if they are operating within a selective licensing area, which can be done by contacting the local council or looking on the local authority website. Typically, licences cost around £400 to apply for. Those who fail to get a licence can be fined or even banned from letting future properties, so it is vital all buy-to-let landlords find out if it applies to them and comply with the requirements.

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