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Government put on the spot over landlord licensing schemes

The government’s apparent opposition to council-wide landlord licensing schemes will be put to the test in the coming weeks following a request by a London borough for all of its private rented properties to be licensed.

Shortly before the general election, housing minister Brandon Lewis announced on behalf of the then-coalition government that all councils wanting to apply blanket licensing schemes throughout their areas could only do so with ministerial approval.

This followed a series of bids by councils to introduce licensing - the authorities typically said the move was to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve rental property quality, although many within the private rented sector believed the true motive was simply to raise money for council coffers, with few resources dedicated to policing the licensing.

Now Redbridge councillors have approved proposals for a licensing scheme of privately rented properties. 

The issue is now on the desk of the Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark, for approval. 

The new regulations, which came into effect on April 1, require the Secretary of State to approve any new scheme that covers more than 20 per cent of the geographical area, or more than 20 per cent of all privately rented houses. Other licensing schemes can still go ahead on the decision of the concil, without ministerial approval.

Existing schemes agreed before April 1, like the controversial scheme across all of Liverpool, can continue to operate under the new rules. 

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