Landlord licensing schemes reach a fever pitch

This year, a new property licensing scheme has been announced every eight days, on average.

Parliament is introducing plenty of legislation aimed at private landlords, but they’re not the only ones with such power. Local authorities have the ability to introduce schemes in their area under the 2004 Housing Act.

What are local licensing schemes?

At the moment, the only mandatory licence for landlords across the UK is for Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). However, depending on where your properties are, there may be other licences you need to obtain in order to legally rent them out.

Usually, there will be a set of standards you need to meet for each property. Once it has been confirmed you’ve met them, you’ll be issued with a licence. These are some of the things that a licence might check for:

  • a valid gas safety certificate, if gas is supplied to the house
  • electrical appliances and furniture being in a safe condition
  • smoke detectors being in proper working order
  • that tenants are supplied with a written statement of the terms of occupation (usually an assured shorthold tenancy agreement)
  • that tenants supply references when they agree to take up tenancy

While this is standard operating procedure for most landlords, many now need to have it verified by their local authority before they can let out a property. The price for obtaining a licence varies from place to place, but the average cost seems to be around £500 for a licence lasting five years.

Are there any selective licensing schemes in my area?

With more and more schemes being introduced, it’s hard to curate a definitive list of local licensing schemes in the UK.

However, finding out whether your area has a licensing scheme in place isn’t too tricky. You can usually check your local authority’s website or speak to someone from the council. If you let your property through an estate agent then they should know about the licensing schemes you need to be aware of.

Even if you haven’t needed to obtain a licence before, when you next come to let out your property, it’s worth checking in case one’s been introduced in the interim.

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