Government publishes review to selective licensing

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has published new guidelines which aim to protect tenants for poor living conditions.

Following the announced legislation on HMO minimum room size last month, any landlord who lets a property to five or more people from two or more separate households, must be licensed by their local housing authority.

The move, affecting around 160,000 houses in multiple occupation (HMOs), will mean councils can take further action to crack down on the small minority of landlords renting out sub-standard and overcrowded homes. Landlords will also be required to adhere to council refuse schemes, to reduce problems with rubbish.

The guidance document includes further details on extending mandatory licensing to smaller HMOs and introducing minimum bedroom sizes as the Government continues to rebalance the relationship between tenants and landlords.

Review of selective licensing scheme

These new guidelines have also come alongside a government announcement reviewing how well selective licensing is working and how it is being used by councils.

In areas where selective licensing has been implemented, landlords must apply for a licence to rent out a property. In doing this, councils can decide whether a landlord is a ‘fit and proper person’ using varying criteria.

The NLA is strongly opposed to the blanket approach taken by some selective licensing schemes, and has suggested a street by street, area by area, approach to target the worst areas first, which also helps with proper enforcement.

The licence fees are also an issue as landlords may need to pass these costs onto their tenants, which will place a greater burden on the most vulnerable people in the private rented sector (PRS).

The selective licensing review will see independent commissioners gather evidence from local authorities and bodies representing landlords, tenants and housing professionals.

The review’s findings will be reported in spring 2019. There will be also be an update on progress in the autumn.

Read the full guidelines here and the selective licensing review announcement here.

Everyone deserves a decent and safe place to live. The new guidance for landlords will further protect private renters against bad and overcrowded conditions and poor management practice.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler MP

If selective licensing schemes are used appropriately and in a targeted fashion, they can be an effective tool for councils to improve housing standards. However, they need to be implemented properly, fully resourced and enforced. We believe a far more effective means of improving standards in the PRS is through better co-operation between councils and landlords, which can be bolstered through accreditation.

NLA Local Policy Officer Gavin Dick

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