What you need to know about landlord licences
Landlord licenses have been hitting the buy-to-let headlines for the past few months.
And they made the news again this week as it emerged Nottingham City Council were struggling to process the thousands of applications they had received three months after the controversial permit scheme was launched.
Nottingham is not alone in introducing buy-to-let licences; councils across the country are rolling them out in an attempt to improve standards in rental living accommodation for tenants.
Here’s what landlords need to know about these licences to rent.
Do all landlords need one?
No. Currently, more than 60 councils in England require landlords to apply for permits to let out their properties. Some schemes, such as the one in Nottingham, cover most rented homes in the city, others only apply to some properties or areas within a borough.
In England, selective licensing scheme can only be introduced by a council if there are particular issues with low housing demand, or significant and persistent problems of Anti Social Behaviour (ASB) linked to private rented homes in the area.
In Scotland, all landlords must sign up to a landlord registration system and obtain a licence, which needs to be renewed every three years.
In Wales, all landlords must register with Rent Smart Wales (Rhentu Doeth Cumru). Licences cost £33.50 and last for five years.
Northern Ireland operates its own landlord registration scheme and has a central register of private landlords. It costs £70 (online) or £80 (paper) to apply, and licences are valid for three years.
What are the types of licences?
The type of permit you need varies from council to council and the type of property you rent.
The three main types of landlord licensing in England are:
- Mandatory licensing
These cover HMO (house in multiple occupation) properties in England. Broadly any property shared by three or more people who are not all related is likely to be an HMO. The definition has recently been expanded to cover certain buildings that have been converted into self-contained flats.
- Additional licensing
These are introduced by a council if they believe a significant number of HMOs are being poorly managed.
- Selective licensing
This can apply to some or all properties, not just HMOs, within the whole of the council’s jurisdiction or specified areas. Under part III of the Housing Act 2004, councils have the power to implement these licences and are able to set their own requirements. Councils can choose how much to charge, but typically you might pay around £500-£600 in England.
What if I fail to comply?
You could face a hefty fine of up to £30,000.
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