Licensing schemes are irresponsible in the current climate

Propertymark has responded to a number of licensing scheme proposals from local authorities across England in recent months arguing that Councils who are pursuing the implementation of licensing schemes are being socially irresponsible. This is because in these unprecedented times landlords and agents are not able to comply with the requirements and Council resources are unlikely to be able to effectively enforce them.

In responses to proposals from Liverpool City Council, Oxford City Council, Doncaster Council, Gedling Borough Council, and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, Propertymark has reminded local authorities about guidance issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government on the need to take a pragmatic approach to the introduction of schemes, as well as a common-sense approach to enforcement.   

The guidance also says that where local authorities are in the process of introducing selective or additional Houses in Multiple Occupation licensing schemes, but these are not yet in force they should continue to take a pragmatic approach. Furthermore, local authorities may need to be prepared to pause the process completely where it is not safe and reasonable to continue or if it conflicts with the latest government advice on the COVID-19 outbreak.

25 Mar 2020
COVID-19 Government Funding

This document provided members with a summary of announced government schemes brought in to support businesses during the pandemic. It covers all the schemes from across the UK, who is eligible for them and how to apply.

Licensing concerns

Propertymark is concerned that, despite the UK Government’s guidance, many local authorities are continuing to push ahead with licensing schemes and not helping to minimise the risk and spread of the virus.

With some agents furloughed or continuing to work from home, they are unable to access relevant paperwork and documentation to complete licensing scheme applications and process fees. Furthermore, it remains difficult for the sector to comply with new and existing legislation, which includes access to the property to carry out maintenance work, renovation, checks or meet the requirements of any licensing schemes.

Additionally, many landlords continue to be impacted financially with extreme COVID-19 related arrears still yet to be recovered. To this end, if landlords who cannot afford the license fee decide not to pay and remove their property from the market, tenants will be forced to seek new homes placing people at risk and spreading rather than stemming the pandemic.

Representing the industry

Propertymark will continue to highlight issues affecting its members to local authorities and ensure that decisions made reflect the needs of the sector and reduce the impact on letting agents and their landlords.

The Government has published advice and guidance for landlords, tenants, and local authorities on its website.

Landlord Licensing

We do not believe that selective licensing schemes are an effective way of promoting higher quality accommodation. Find out why we believe this and why a collaborative approach is needed.