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The rush to selective licensing

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Are local authorities well enough staffed and equipped to run the selective licensing schemes designed to improve the standard of rented accommodation in their area and to clamp down on so-called “rogue” landlords? 

An article in Letting Agent Today on the 16th of November 2018 argues that some councils are so poorly prepared that the schemes are falling into “chaos”.

Selective licensing

Local councils in England and Wales have been given broad powers to enforce “selective licensing” – the requirement for all private sector landlords in a given area to apply for a licence as a “fit and proper person” to let their property.

In a story published on the 14th of July 2018, the Guardian newspaper reported that some 55 local authorities already have or are considering the introduction of such schemes – with the incentive of raising funds through licence application fees or the imposition of fines for breaching scheme rules being just as compelling as any strategy for improving the private rented housing stock. 

Chaos

The article by Letting Agent Today illustrates how poorly equipped one such council in Nottingham appears to have been since the introduction of its selective licensing scheme on the 1st of August.

The area covered by the scheme includes some 32,000 private rental sector homes – an estimated 91% of the total stock of rental properties.

Although the scheme came into force at the beginning of August, the council has so far received only 13,450 licence applications. Of these, fewer than 6,000 have yet been processed by the council. Fewer than 2,500 have been approved by the council and slightly more than 3,500 have been returned to the landlords concerned because of what are described as “paperwork errors”. 

A spokesman for the local landlords’ organisation alleges that this is evidence of the council “sinking in paperwork”.