Selective Licensing: Your Guide


It was as long ago as 2006 when Selective Licensing was introduced in England as a way for local authorities to reduce the number of anti-social tenants and to stamp out bad practice within the private rented sector.  Whilst the intentions may have held some merit, there are concerns that such schemes could be launched in a bid to raise money – rather than to tackle a specific, local need. 

Leicester City Council is one of the latest in a long line of councils proposing to introduce the controversial scheme into parts of the city, and we examine just what the schemes are, and what prompts a council or local authority choose to introduce them.

In areas where a Selective Licensing Scheme has been introduced, landlords must apply for a licence if they want to rent their property out. The costs of licenses varies but are typically in the region of £500. Fines for breaching the licence conditions can vary from around £5,000 and can reach as high as £20,000.  

How does a council decide whether to introduce a licensing scheme?

A local authority can’t just decide to introduce a licensing scheme – it must be in direct response to certain conditions. These conditions are:

  • There is low demand for housing
  • Anti-social behaviour is a significant and persistent problem
  • The area has an issue with poor property conditions
  • There are high levels of migration
  • High levels of deprivation and/or crime blight the area

However, the local authority should be able to demonstrate how introducing a licensing scheme will improve local outcomes.  Additionally, a local authority should not simply expect to be able to rely on the introduction of a licensing scheme to solve local issues but should instead use the full range of existing enforcement powers to tackle the identified problems.

What to do if your local council proposes intruding such a scheme?

We would urge landlords to get involved in the consultation if their local authority or council proposes introducing a selective licensing scheme. 

Where issues of anti-social behaviour need to be addressed, or there are high levels of crimes being committed then the authorities should work together to tackle these issues rather than simply imposing additional costs and bureaucracy onto private landlords. Not only is this unfair, but it simply won’t be an effective way of solving the problems.

If you have a rental property which is located within an area that has a selective licensing scheme in operation, speak to your local Darlows agent about the specific terms and costs of the scheme.