Over 50 councils in England alone now operate licensing schemes

Research by the National Residential Landlords Association and the Which? consumer body has revealed that some 53 councils in England alone operate licensing schemes, or are about to introduce them.

This is despite a long-running pledge by government to decide the future of such licences following an independent review which reported last summer.

For the latest analysis, the NRLA submitted freedom of information requests to councils across England between November 2019 and February 2020.

It received more than 200 responses, with 53 councils confirming they operate additional or selective schemes – or both – or are in the process of launching such a scheme. London has 20 boroughs operating a scheme.

Government advice to local authorities has been that they should consider deferring the introduction of new or revised licensing schemes while the Coronavirus outbreak remains a major issue.

However, Waltham Forest borough council has started a new scheme applying to some 6,000 HMOs while the NRLA has written to another authority – Coventry – which says it intends to bring in a licensing scheme from May 4.

The entire licensing debate is highly controversial with many trade bodies within the industry accusing councils of using the schemes merely to raise funds rather than improve rental standards, while poorly enforcing the existing regulations.

On the other hand many local authorities defend the schemes and one – Labour-controlled Liverpool – is seeking a Judicial Review of a decision by the government to deny it the right to extend its existing licensing system which it describes as ”life saving.”

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