By using this website, you agree to our use of cookies to enhance your experience.
Written by rosalind renshaw

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.


  • icon

    I've just bought a fantastic property in Blackpool with a 16% return (for cash) - because the Selective Licensing is killing off the property market. This is the most hare brained idea imaginable.

    How can a landlord control Anti Sociable Behaviour when the Courts usually decline to allow landlords to evict under s8?? Councils already have the right to condemn accommodation as unfit for human habitation without this scheme.

    Moreover how can Blackpool council justify charging £690 per flat and have the cheek to charge £180 for landlords who haven't filled in their form correctly, when Hemming v Westminster Council clarified that the fees can only cover the admin costs for the scheme (with no profit and no contribution to enforcement).

    No doubt somebody is going to sue the socks off of Blackpool Council for these illegal fees.

    • 03 February 2014 15:53 PM
  • icon

    I think taht something needed to come in to make sure landlords were renting out rentable properties and were ensuiring the HMO rules were abided by but the selective licnesing is not the way forward. This needs a rethink what they have intriduced is just another tax for landlords and that is not fair on the landlrods that actually do a decent job and look after their properties.

    With the lenders not lending and thinking about not lending this ill stop investors from buying which then slows down both markets (rental and sale).

    In my opinion definietly a no go on selective licensing and a rethink is in order.

    • 20 December 2013 17:06 PM
  • icon

    Natwest won’t lend in any licensed area and it won’t be long before other lenders follow suit.....governments principal of licensing is to address ASB and Low Demand.....lenders pull out of mortgage market in the council designated low demand areas less people to buy and low demand perpetuates.....

    • 17 December 2013 12:55 PM
  • icon

    @ SWT on 2013-12-17 09:08:53
    @ As it is on 2013-12-17 08:30:55
    @ London Agent on 2013-12-17 08:28:58

    In my opinion a lot of councils are imposing licensing merely to obtain income without even considering the cost to them of ensuring compliance, even if they had the experience and knowledge to do so.

    • 17 December 2013 12:54 PM
  • icon

    "Twelve English local authorities with selective licensing regimes have so far prosecuted 216 landlords between them for failing to obtain a licence"

    But how many of those were found to be breaching any other requirement? and how many people with licenses have been prosecuted for failing to meet legal requirements? The number of people prosecuted for being ignorant of local legislation is a useless statistic.

    • 17 December 2013 09:08 AM
  • icon

    "So far, Durham, Hartlepool, Hyndburn and Bristol councils have not prosecuted any landlords."

    Working well then.

    We are in an area with licencing and its rubbish. No one seems to care - tenants certainly dont. They just want a home at the right price. Licencing pushes the price up.

    • 17 December 2013 08:30 AM
  • icon

    "NatWest, for example, will not lend in Newham."

    That says it all. A flawed model. Simply, we need blanket regulation and someone to enforce it with heft penalties for anyone not complying.

    No one intend on doing wrong will 'fess up' for a licence. They will stay hidden from HMRC and councils.

    • 17 December 2013 08:28 AM
MovePal MovePal MovePal