Nottingham City Council is planning to introduce a citywide selective licensing scheme – with landlords expected to fork out £600 for each of their rental homes.
If it is given the go-ahead the scheme will be one of the largest in the country, with Nottingham home to 43,000 privately rented properties. If each of these required a full-price licence the scheme would net the council more than £25 million.
Under the plans licences will last for five years – with landlords needing a separate licence for each of their properties. A discount of £140 has been proposed for accredited landlords.
Nottingham City Council has defended its plans – saying the scheme will improve standards across the sector. It claims the move has come about as a result of 4,500 complaints over the last four years about problems ranging from dangerous electrical wiring to cockroach infestations in PRS homes.
It says the proportion of privately rented housing in Nottingham increased by 12% between 2001 and 2011 according to Census data, 3% higher than the average for England. It also claims poorly managed and maintained properties in areas with a high proportion of PRS housing are contributing to higher levels of crime and anti-social behaviour in those neighbourhoods.
Under the plans landlords will need to prove they and their homes meet required standards before they are granted a licence.
Councillor Jane Urquhart, the council’s portfolio holder for planning and housing, said: “By obtaining a licence at a reasonable cost, landlords will be able to clearly demonstrate to prospective tenants that they meet required standards.
“So the introduction of a licensing scheme would not only bring benefits for tenants, local communities and council tax payers by reducing the cost of enforcement action necessary, it would also actually benefit landlords themselves.”
The Residential Landlords Association is opposed to selective licensing schemes, believing they are expensive and unnecessary.
RLA Chairman Alan Ward said: “Local authorities already have the powers to effectively monitor landlords through council tax documentation, with 96% able to collect landlords’ data on these forms.
“What they need to concentrate on is taking enforcement action against the criminal landlords who, while in the minority, are out there. All this scheme will do is punish good landlords who will be forced to pay for costly licences while the criminals continue to operate below the radar – while raking in millions of pounds for the council.
“We will be making these points to Nottingham City Council in our official response to its consultation.”
The consultation into the plans is due to start later this month and will run until March 2017.
Depending on the outcome of the consultation and the required consideration by the Secretary of State, a scheme could be introduced by Spring 2018.