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Nottingham is latest licensing scheme to be failing

Thursday 22 November 2018

Selective and Additional Licensing has been a contentious issue ever since it was first introduced back in the UK in 2007 in Salford, but councils continue to roll out new licensing schemes on a frequent basis with no signs of abating.

Nottingham is one of the latest schemes to be introduced, and this large scale scheme has reinvigorated the debate, with many detractors continuing to raise their concerns over the schemes including ARLA Propertymark and the not-for-profit landlords association, East Midlands Property Owners Limited. 

A licence for Nottingham costs £780. This is paid in two parts: £460 on application and £320 on approval of application. Landlords with Nottingham Standard accreditation obtained before 31 July 2018 pay £480, £360 on application and £120 upon approval.

Figures released by Nottingham City Council reveal that only 13,450 applications have been received since the Selective Licensing scheme began on 1 August this year. It is estimated that around 32,000 properties in the city require a licence. There is now a backlog of applications, and there have been reports that thousands of applications are being turned down because of 'paperwork errors'. 

East Midlands Property Owners Limited, claim that the cost for each license is prohibitively expensive, especially when you consider that the cost to inspect a property is estimated to be £77.17, a figure given after a Freedom of Information request. Also of concern is the inconsistency of fees across different local authority areas, which encourages some landlords to purely 'hop across the border' to take their business elsewhere. They argue that 50% or more of the licensed properties will not receive formal inspections, which weakens the council's argument that the scheme protects and safeguards tenants. The group also brings into question the effectiveness of HMO licensing, citing figures from Nottinghamshire Police which show that Lenton and Dunkirk has seen an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime despite widespread licensing. 

ARLA Propertymark has argued consistently that licensing schemes simply do not work. Most schemes are proven to have failed as they are not adequately resourced to undertake necessary enforcement action. Schemes just end up costing those landlords who already comply with regulation, whilst still allowing rogues to fly under the radar. This is borne out by the fact that prosecutions are low and the fact that there are so many redesignations of licensing areas, demonstrating that the five-year period to effect property conditions and deal with anti-social behaviour in communities simply isn't working. 

David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark, commented: “Licensing doesn’t work, and it never has done. The Government’s aims are laudable ... licensing means councils spend all their time administering schemes, rather than enforcing against rogue, criminal landlords – a fact which has been proven time and time again over the last decade." 

We also believe that those councils which continue to insist on charging high licensing fees, should encourage high standards by offering a discount to landlords or their agents who belong to professional bodies - for example Liverpool City Council gave a 50% discount to ARLA Propertymark members. This is something that currently doesn't happen in many local authority areas.

And so...we return to Nottingham

Agents must understand that it is now against the law to rent out a property without a licence in Nottingham. Letting agents should ensure their landlords are applying for a Selective Licence for each of their privately rented properties where required.

Landlords should also ensure they are providing the correct details and documentation, as more than 3,536 applications have been rejected by the Council due to paperwork errors.

Most wards within Nottingham City Council are affected, however in some areas this does not include the entire ward. Find out if a property requires a licence.

To help you understand licensing schemes we have produced two Fact Sheets for members - one on Selective Licensing and one on Additional Licensing. Go to the members' area to download now.