private rental sector licensing scheme Central Housing Group

Chaos as thousands of licensing applications rejected by council

Local press reports say that one of the country’s most controversial buy to let licensing schemes has seen thousands of applications rejected for bureaucratic reasons.

The scheme is in Nottingham where the council is introducing a new selective licensing regime covering an estimated 32,000 privately rented homes. This is an estimated 91 per cent of all rental properties making it the second scheme in the UK outside of London according to some industry experts.

Now the media report that the council has received only 13,450 applications since the scheme went live on August 1; the council has reportedly processed only 5,993 of those applications – 2,457 have been accepted as valid while 3,536 have been sent back to landlords due to what are called “paperwork errors.”

Meanwhile, it is apparently against the law for any landlord in the area to let a property without a licence – yet thousands of applications have still to be processed.

The East Midlands Property Owners Group, representing some 600 landlords, is quoted locally as saying: “The reality is [the council] are sinking in paperwork. They have employed about 70 staff overall to run this licensing scheme. We are now over three months into this scheme and they have only a third of the applications in and still trawling through that third. There have been a lot of rejections and a lot of people phoning me up. Everyone is fed up with the whole thing.”

The council is quoted in the Nottingham Post as saying: “We have a 76-strong team specifically for administering and enforcing selective licencing, paid for through the fees, including everyone from admin support officers to environmental health officers, enforcement officers and senior managers.

“We received approval for selective licensing from the Government in April and had three months to launch the scheme. There was always going to be a bulge in applications at this stage of the process which will even out over time, when officers can then turn their attention more to enforcement.

“The city council introduced selective licensing in August to give private tenants in up to 32,000 privately rented homes better quality accommodation and greater protection from bad landlords.

“Where problems arise, it means we can take action to ensure landlords address them or in the worst cases, prosecute them and remove their right to hold a licence.”

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