By Judith Loeffler

Landlord licensing

‘We’ll (…) crack down on the unscrupulous landlords (…) by introducing a new mandatory licensing regime.’ This intent was stated by David Cameron during his speech on immigration end of May.

Whilst the Department for Communities and Local Government has since clarified that this will apply  to Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) only, it also became clear that there will be a new definition of HMOs requiring to be licensed. Currently mandatory licensing is only required for properties with 3 or more stories and 5 or more tenants. The Government will consult on the amendment of the definition of a mandatory HMO which requires a license – with the outcome predicted to be that more properties will need to be licensed.

Councils in the meantime have created new realities by making use of their ability to introduce additional licensing:

  • Ealing, Hounslow, Kingston, Islington and Croydon already operate selective HMO licensing requiring landlords of any rental property with 3 or more unrelated tenants to obtain a license from the council – a license is required for each property which of course needs to be paid for and usually requires additional works to be implemented
  • Croydon has announced that an additional licensing scheme will be put into place from 1 October 2015 requiring ALL landlords to obtain a license, no matter the size of the property to be let

Whenever councils aim to introduce widespread landlord licensing, this tends to be challenged:

Enfield’s proposed scheme was claimed to reduce anti-social behaviour and increase the quality of properties to let, though following challenges these plans have now been abandoned. However, a judicial review over a selective licensing scheme for private sector landlords in Rotherham Council has upheld the decision, now requiring landlords to have a five year license costing up to £625.

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