Selective Landlord Licensing Schemes: The Lowdown
There has been astronomical growth within the Private Rental Sector over the last 20 years. One big change that’s been ushered in is the government’s attempt to curb issues like anti social behaviour and tenant overcrowding. This has been done by the use of selective landlord licensing since 2006, seeking to aid local authorities in keeping the sector in line. As a landlord advertising a home via an online property agent, translates to paying a fee per year to let out properties, which has not always been greeted warmly by landlords, who’ve often viewed selective licensing as a way local authorities generate cash.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has recently reviewed the process and found that, in January 2019, 44 local authorities had conducted one or more selective landlord licenses, mostly handed out due to to issues like poor housing conditions and anti social behaviour as well as housing deprivation. At the same time, an independent review also offered a number of things worth considering to make selective landlord licensing schemes more effective:
- Rigorous planning and application
- An evidence-based approach
- A stringent inspection process
- Engagement with landlords directly
- Political support as well as community engagement
- Communication with all parties on targets, progress and desired outcomes
There are also several key factors which hamper the current scheme’s effectiveness. These are down to authorities not being able to define individual license conditions related to properties as well as underestimations of private rental properties and failures with existing licenses due to poor upkeep – as well as an overly complex licensing system with high running costs.
The review also put forward a series of recommendations to help make the scheme more feasible. These included:
- An amendment to mandatory licensing conditions to which a landlord must adhere
- A best practice review and guidance to local councils
- The inclusion of exemptions where a case can be made – like student housing
- A review of the 20% threshold in relation to current data when a census has not been made
- A national scheme where landlords can support selective licensing
- An exploration of alternatives to a judicial review when challenging a decision
- An increased use of social media to spread awareness
- Increasing the range of offences that can cited when it comes to landlords
- Increased data sharing
- A streamlined application process
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) received these recommendations generously, and is also seeking more input to help improve the quality of housing on the market, but as of yet, the process is still under review.
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