Landlord Licensing – Time to Cease Council Control

Posted on March 20th, 2024.

It’s time to put an end to what is commonly referred to as Landlord Licensing.

For those not familiar with our industry, let me provide a quick explanation: by ‘landlord licensing,’ I am referring to the systems implemented by certain councils, requiring landlords to obtain licenses before renting out properties.

These systems enable councils to assess whether landlords are, in official terms, “fit and proper persons,” as well as ensuring compliance with safety regulations and measures to prevent or address anti-social behaviour by tenants. While this may seem sensible and commendable, it’s precisely what it is.

However, with the imminence of the  Renters Reform Bill into law (anticipated this summer), similar safeguards will be established at the national level through various provisions, such as a Property Portal, a national register, and a mandatory ombudsman scheme. These measures are intended to raise standards in the private rental sector.

Given that all of this will soon be in place at the national level, let’s avoid wasting time, money, and resources at the local level by duplicating efforts, and potentially doing so less effectively.

Here’s why landlord licensing by councils is becoming obsolete:

1.Duplication: In an era of budget cuts, it’s illogical to perform the same tasks twice.

2.Effectiveness: Different councils currently operate different licensing schemes, with enforcement left primarily to the councils themselves, leading to inconsistent oversight, especially considering the financial pressures many local authorities face.

3.Risk of Overregulation: With over 150 national laws already impacting the private rental sector, and potentially more on the horizon, the additional layers of regulation from local schemes may lead to unnecessary burdens.

4.Trustworthiness of Councils: Recent reports have raised concerns about how funds from licensing schemes are managed by councils, casting doubt on their transparency and integrity.

5.Accuracy of Councils: Instances have emerged where councils’ use of automation in licensing schemes has been called into question, potentially leading to arbitrary and inconsistent outcomes.

6.Lack of Expert Support: Independent voices have not rallied behind these localised, patchy schemes, with many arguing for a more uniform, national approach instead.

It’s crucial to clarify that we are not opposed to licensing itself or its objectives; rather, we question the efficacy of the current methods.

If we can achieve improved housing quality and better-prepared landlords through a nationally applied scheme with adequate enforcement resources, why persist with fragmented local schemes vulnerable to ongoing budget cuts?

It’s a straightforward decision… unless, of course, the motivation is more about resentment towards landlords than actual improvements to the private rental sector.

If you would like to know more about how we could help you to maximise the income potential of your investment(s), or have a current issue or dispute with your tenancy, call our helpline for impartial, professional advice, without obligation on 020 8366 9777 or write to info@ashmoreresidential.com 

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