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Landlord licensing schemes a ‘postcode lottery’

Victoria Barker
Written by Victoria Barker

New research shows landlord licensing schemes to be a postcode lottery – with the most expensive schemes costing 21 times more than the cheapest.

The figures were revealed after the RLA’s own research showed is NO clear link between a council having a licensing scheme in place and levels of enforcement.

In Scotland and Wales landlord licences are mandatory, while in England one in six local authorities now have their own scheme in place, with an estimated 460,000 rental homes in England covered.

The new figures were published by Direct Line for Business, which said the cost of a new licence ranges from just £55 to £1,150, with the average landlord licence in the UK costing £591. 

The research also identified a dramatic increase in the costs charged by local authorities with, on average, each council with a licensing scheme raising £144,629 in 2017. 


Local authorities across the UK recorded an average 5,069 licensing offences in 2017, an increase of 46 per cent since 2016 (3,476 offences).

Failing to comply with a scheme is a criminal offence that can result in prosecution and a civil penalty of up to £30,000. However, the average fine for a licensing offence in 2017 was just £926.

The RLA says that – whatever the cost of the scheme – licensing guarantees nothing about the quality of rental homes in an area, with no link with levels of enforcement work by local authorities.

The association believes licensing does not work and sees costs increase for good landlords while the criminals continue to operate below the radar.

David Smith, RLA policy director said: “Whatever the cost of licensing, it fails to provide any assurance about the quality of accommodation. The RLA’s own analysis shows that there is no clear link between a council having a licensing scheme in place and levels of enforcement against criminal landlords.

“The fundamental problem with all schemes is that it is only the good landlords who come forward to be licensed. They completely fail to identify the crooks. They just mean landlords, and therefore tenants, having to pay more.

“Instead, councils need to be more creative in how they identify landlords by better using the powers they have to collect data using council tax returns and accessing information from deposit schemes.”

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About the author

Victoria Barker

Victoria Barker

Victoria is the Communications Officer for the RLA.

She is responsible for producing articles for our Campaigns and News Centre, the weekly E-News newsletter and media review, and creating social media content. She also contributes to our members magazine, Residential Property Investor.

1 Comment

  • What I would like to know is, where does this licensing money go? councils charge whatever they like and from where I stand, I see no improvements to the licensed areas in any shape or form. I personally have never trusted councils anymore that a government that legitimises them, it seems to me that license fees only go toward harassing landlords that pay this backdoor tax.

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