Licensing regimes are driving up standards in the private rented sector.
However, high costs and levels of bureaucracy are problems, it has been admitted.
A further problem for landlords is that some lenders will not lend buy-to-let mortgages in areas of selective licensing.
Twelve English local authorities with selective licensing regimes have so far prosecuted 216 landlords between them for failing to obtain a licence, and 29 landlords for HMO and hazard offences.
The figures come from Environmental Health News, which is the magazine of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.
It surveyed the 12 authorities and discovered that money brought in by selective licensing schemes is being used to fund the recruitment of housing officers, as well as bring prosecutions.
At least three other authorities – Sheffield, Waltham Forest and Peterborough – are currently consulting on introducing selective licensing schemes. Newham Council in London has so far introduced both the widest selective licensing regime – it covers the whole of the private rental stock in Newham and five-year licences cost £500 – and taken the most legal action.
Since January, when its blanket licensing scheme came into force, it has begun legal proceedings against 99 landlords for licence offences plus proceedings against six landlords for other offences. Leeds, which introduced its scheme in October 2009, prosecuted 42 landlords for licence offences and six for HMO and hazard offences.
So far, Durham, Hartlepool, Hyndburn and Bristol councils have not prosecuted any landlords.
According to the magazine’s survey, Blackpool, which charges £670 for its licences, has recruited eight extra housing officers and Newham has recruited six more.
However, Blackburn, Bristol, Durham, Gateshead, Hyndburn, Salford and Stoke have not added to the headcount in their housing departments.
Most of the councils surveyed claimed selective licensing had driven up management and property standards in the private rented sector.
Leeds said enforcement action had forced a minority of landlords to “sell their properties and leave the area”. It said there was less churn in the area, with evidence of less anti-social behaviour: complaints about fly-tipping and graffiti had fallen.
Newcastle also said that a number of landlords had sold their properties, and that “more reliable” landlords were now carrying out refurbishment works.
Bob Mayho, CIEH principal policy officer, said: “The survey shows an increasing number of local authorities are considering going down the selective licensing route to tackle areas of deprivation, low demand and poor quality housing.”
However, he also cautioned that selective licensing is costly. He said: “Many colleagues working to improve standards in the private rented sector tell us that the licensing approach is fraught with difficulties and carries with it high levels of bureaucratic burden.”
Separately, landlords are warned that they may find it difficult to secure buy-to-let mortgages in areas of selective licensing. NatWest, for example, will not lend in Newham.