In the last five years, landlord licensing's become increasingly common. It comes in three forms – HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) licensing, additional licensing and selective licensing.
Mandatory HMO licensing requires landlords who have HMOs with three or more storeys, five or more tenants in two or more households, or shared facilities to purchase a licence.
Additional and selective licensing schemes – which cover smaller HMOs or any rental property – are less common, however there have been a number of new schemes proposed and introduced since we last took an in-depth look at this issue in 2015.
Landlords who don't have a licence in an area where a scheme’s been introduced are liable for a fine and many councils take the enforcement of these rules very seriously.
Just this year, landlords in Waltham Forest, Barnet and Birmingham have all been fined thousands of pounds for not having a licence for their rental property.
With this in mind, we've taken a look at some of the most high-profile selective and additional licensing schemes to be proposed and introduced in recent months.
What do you need to do?
The first thing you'll need to do is check which type of licensing rules are currently in place in your local area – and have a look below to see if we’ve listed yours. If you've got an HMO of a certain size, you'll need an HMO licence, but there may be additional or selective licensing schemes you also need to comply with.
You can check on your local authority's website, as well as with a local representative from either the National Landlords Association or the Residential Landlords Association.
If your area requires you to purchase any type of licence, and you haven't already done so, you shouldn't delay in purchasing one.
It may be an additional cost, but many local authorities take the policing of these schemes very seriously and aren’t afraid to hand out hefty fines to those who aren't complying.
It's also wise to keep up with industry trade news as there are new schemes being consulted and introduced frequently.
If your local authority proposes to introduce a selective or additional licensing scheme, you should take part in the consultation.
The consultations are there for landlords to have their say and, as we've seen recently, if the opposition’s strong enough, councils have been known to make U-turns and refrain from introducing a licensing scheme.
From January next year, Ealing Council will be introducing two new landlord licensing schemes.
The first, a selective licensing scheme, will be introduced in Acton Central, East Acton, South Acton, Southall Green and Southall Broadway.
The second scheme will require landlords of all HMOs that have two storeys or more, and are occupied by four or more tenants, to purchase a licence.
Landlords in Ealing, where there are around 36,000 private rental properties, will have to pay £500 for a selective licence as well as £1,100 for each HMO (plus £30 for each habitable room) – these costs will cover a five-year period.
At the beginning of July, Barnet Council introduced an additional licensing scheme, applying to HMOs which fall into select criteria.
In general terms, landlords with HMOs with two or more storeys or four or more tenants are highly likely to need a licence.
The details are explained in full on the London Property Licensing website.
There are around 6,000 HMOs in the borough, according to Barnet Council, almost 4,000 of which will need to be licensed.
A five-year licence for a property with up to five tenants costs £1,008, with an extra £24 charged for each additional tenant.
North Somerset Council’s proposed a selective licensing scheme for the Central Ward and Hillside areas of Weston-super-Mare.
The scheme, which could be introduced in November, will require all landlords in these areas to purchase a five-year licence for £320.
A group of local landlords have set up a campaign to challenge the introduction of the licensing scheme, organising meetings and creating a petition.
At the beginning of July, Redbridge Council confirmed its plans to push ahead with a selective licensing scheme across 14 wards, covering 78% of the borough.
The proposal was heard at a full cabinet meeting later in the month and is now expected to go out for formal consultation.
The scheme has been supported by Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors, but has been criticised by Conservatives.
Last year, Redbridge Council tried to introduce a scheme covering 100% of the borough, however it was refused by the Secretary of State in December.
Manchester City Council announced, towards the end of June, that it was considering a selective licensing scheme for a number of areas in the city.
The authority’s currently consulting on introducing licensing in what it deems four of the areas with the worst housing conditions: Crumpsall, Moston, Old Moat and Rusholme.
As yet, no approximate costs or a date for full public consultation have been announced.
Wisbech Council in Cambridgeshire recently pulled the plug on its plans for a selective licensing scheme, after the proposals received a negative response during the consultation period.
The council was proposing to introduce licensing to seven local areas, covering almost 2,500 private rental properties.
The feedback during the formal consultation period, comprising almost 1,000 responses, was described in the local press as 'overwhelmingly' hostile.
Wisbech Council was aiming to charge landlords £750 for an HMO licence and £575 for a single household let over a five-year period.
Oxford Council’s reported to be considering a selective licensing scheme which would cover 10,000 rental properties.
The authority claims that there are already 5,000 HMOs in the city, around 70% of which are licensed.
A document published by the council suggests a scheme could be implemented early next year.
However, there’s yet to be a formal consultation and one council spokesperson’s pointed out that the proposals haven’t even been approved by local councillors.