Rent Sector Licensing Schemes Central Housing Group

Rent Sector Licensing Schemes Expansion

An umbrella organisation representing councils is calling for greater freedom to introduce more and larger rent sector licensing schemes, without the need for government consent.

The group, London Councils, represents all 33 local authorities in the capital and its leaders have told the BBC that councils should not have to rely on government permission for large licensing areas.

Since 2015 councils wanting to introduce selective licensing over 20 per cent of their areas, or more than 20 per cent of the rental stock in their area, require consent from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Since then, Barking and Dagenham has been the only English council to get permission for a 100 per cent licensing scheme.

Now councillor Darren Rodwell, London Councils’ executive member for housing and planning, had told a BBC investigation into licensing that: “The government should do away with the bureaucratic burden of requiring councils to gain the Secretary of State’s permission before starting selective rent sector licensing schemes.”

He continues: “Boroughs are clearly much better placed to understand conditions in the local private rental sector and to assess the benefits of implementing selective licensing. Ministers must cut this needless red tape and let London boroughs get on with the job of setting standards and protecting tenants in our communities.”

The BBC also reports the view against 100 per cent licensing from the Residential Landlords Association, whose policy manager John Stewart says: “Licensing can be successful if it is small-scale and intended for a specific set of problems, with transparency and clarity about its objectives and outcomes, and funding put in place to ensure it is properly run and enforced.

“We don’t deny there’s poor property and management processes in the private rented sector, and we want those operators forced out, but there’s very little evidence that selective licensing does that.”

Stewart believes existing licensing schemes would have been more successful if there had been effective policing and enforcement.

“Some [landlords] may try to switch their properties to other things like short-term letting, and some may look to leave the sector because of the cumulative effect of this and tax changes” explains the association spokesman.

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