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Are larger landlord associations conflicted over selective licensing proposals?

Last month, it was announced that Telford and Wrekin’s Council Cabinet had agreed to abandon its proposals for selective licensing in light of alternative measures and overwhelming feedback recommending against it. The Council consulted on the proposals last year, seeking opinions on the introduction of the scheme in four areas across the region. It concluded that there was insufficient support from landlords and residents to introduce the scheme, with over 67 per cent disagreeing with the proposal.

Selective licensing was introduced in 2006 in an effort to make rogue landlords reduce socially unacceptable behaviour and clean up their acts. In areas where selective licensing is in effect, landlords must apply for a license to rent out a property. This is so that the relevant council can check that you are fit to be a landlord, while making other stipulations about the management of the property and safety measures. Experts claim thousands of landlords may be unaware that they are renting homes in a selective licensing area, especially as councils can be persuaded against introducing the license if enough landlords and residents take the effort and time to explain alternative measures available.

Bournemouth Council is the latest such authority in a line of councils to abandon their proposals for selective licensing. They were finally persuaded against the license as it was deemed inappropriate by campaigners against the measure. It is thought that the license will not address the aims initially proposed – to reduce anti-social behaviour and improve the quality of housing stock.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) has lodged objections to the proposals on the basis that they will likely increase costs for both tenants and landlords in the affected areas, without solving the issues identified by councils. However, any council can choose to introduce the scheme if they are concerned about persistent anti-social behaviour or low housing quality.

Landlords with privately rented properties within licensed areas must apply and obtain a 5 year license in order to continue letting to tenants. The punishment for landlords can be very high if they operate in a selective licensing area without a license. Landlords can be forced to pay 12 months’ rent back to their tenant, or can be prevented from letting properties in future. Given the harsh punishments, it is essential that landlords find out if they are in an area operating the scheme by contacting their local council.

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