More landlords are going to be subject to licensing schemes after the Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government approved a licensing scheme for private rental properties in Nottingham. The scheme will mean about 31,000 rented properties will now need licensing, in the largest such scheme outside London.

The city council hopes the selective licensing scheme will address many of the problems affecting rental properties within its authority. A Building Research Establishment Group report estimates that about one in five privately-rented properties in Nottingham is likely to have hazards coming under Category 1, which includes very cold bedrooms, mould on the walls, exposed wiring, a leaky roof or an infestation of vermin.

The local authority hopes the selective licensing scheme will improve standards for tenants and mean landlords know exactly what condition a property should be in, so it is fit for rental. The cost of a licence will be reduced for any responsible landlords who have the Nottingham Standard Accreditation. Tenants will be able to check if their landlord has the accreditation and the licence. In this way, the city council hopes the standard of private rental properties will improve. However, the licensing scheme still means that responsible, professional landlords are paying the price for the rogue landlords, who tend to operate outside of the system. Even with accreditation, landlords will have to pay about £400 per licence per property while those without the Nottingham Standard accreditation will pay around £650. This is still an extra financial burden for landlords to bear and the cost could be passed on to tenants through increased rents.

Manchester is also extending its licensing scheme to cover rental properties in Moss Side and Rusholme from April. Properties in Crumpsall are already subject to licensing, while those in Moston and Old Moat are expected to follow suit following the consultation period.

Interestingly, Telford and Wrekin Council has scrapped plans for selective licensing in certain districts, following a consultation which attracted more than 900 responses. The Residential Landlords Association was among those who responded to Telford’s licensing proposal. It believes the scheme penalises law-abiding landlords who have to pay for licenses simply to do their job of renting out properties. Meanwhile, the rogue landlords, which the scheme is aimed at, continue to work under the radar. As an alternative, the council plans to put in place a Better Homes For All scheme, to improve the quality of rental properties and tackle the problem of rogue landlords renting out unsuitable accommodation.

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