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Plans are in hand to license every privately-rented property in the Nottingham City Authority area, at a cost of £600 per property. The city council is planning a new licensing scheme affecting 26,250 properties, to improve standards in the private rental sector. Residents, tenants, landlords, letting agents and other interested parties have a chance to have their say during the consultation period, running until March 31.

If it goes ahead, the scheme will begin in February 2018 to license the estimated 26,250 rental properties across the city. An article from Nottingham City Council says the Selective Licensing scheme would require landlords to have a licence to show they and their properties meet set standards. The local authority is concerned about standards in this sector, after receiving 4,500 complaints in the past four years with problems ranging from dangerous electrical wiring to cockroach infestations. The council alleges that poorly-maintained homes in areas with high numbers of rental properties contribute to higher levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in these districts. It argues the scheme would benefit everyone, including landlords, as it would demonstrate they meet required standards.

Most rentals would be covered by the scheme, with a licence expected to cost £600 for five years. Accredited landlords could get a discount of, say, £140. This revenue would be used by the council to cover the cost of administering the Selective Licensing scheme.

Although to the layman this may seem to be a reasonable scheme, landlords could be justified in feeling that it’s just another unnecessary expense. All it will do is financially penalise those landlords who do comply with existing regulations and respond to tenants’ requests. Regulations are already in place to make sure rental properties are habitable and meet certain criteria regarding gas appliances, fire safety and repairs, for example. Tenants who do not get a positive response from their landlord or letting agent can complain to the local authority’s environmental health department. The council can give advice and may tell the landlord to carry out the necessary repairs. They can even take landlords to court as a last resort. So is a licensing scheme really necessary? Also, if it is implemented, the cost of the license could be met by the tenants in increased rents, which isn’t in their best interests, either. Is this yet another indirect and unnecessary tax on landlords, who have no alternative but to comply?