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Dec 5, 2016: Another Licensing Scheme?

The local council in Nottingham wants to introduce a city-wide licensing scheme of all landlords across its estimated 43,000 private rental properties including some 7,748 Houses in Multiple Occupation. Documentation prepared for council members suggests that at £600 per licence, over 70 additional staff will be required to handle an average of over 5,000 applications per year once the initial scheme has been introduced. Consultation on the proposal is likely to begin later this month and, depending on its results, the full-city regime could be in place by early 2018. A statement by the Residential Landlords Association says if each of Nottingham’s private rental sector properties requires a full-price licence, the scheme would net the council more than £25 million. Nottingham council itself has claimed that as a result of 4,500 complaints over the last four years about issues connected with privately rented accommodation, it needs such a scheme to improve standards and deter anti-social behaviour. It says the proportion of privately rented housing in Nottingham increased by 12 per cent between 2001 and 2011 according to Census data, which is some three per cent higher than the average for England. Under the plans landlords will need to prove they and their homes meet required standards before they are granted a licence. “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” says a council spokeswoman. The RLA says it is opposed to this and all selective licensing schemes, believing they are expensive and unnecessary. “Local authorities already have the powers to effectively monitor landlords through council tax documentation, with 96 per cent 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” explains RLA chairman Alan Ward. “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.”

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