CIEH urges Government to help councils use selective licensing schemes to improve housing conditions

28 November 2022, Mark Hope

CIEH has written to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, urging the UK Government to make it easier for councils in England to use selective licensing schemes to improve housing conditions.

Selective licensing schemes involve designated areas where privately rented properties have to be licensed with the local authority.

The letter reflects recommendations in the report ‘A licence to rent’ that was produced by the Chartered Institute of Housing and CIEH.

CIEH has argued that selective licensing schemes have a crucial role to play in delivering the Government’s levelling up agenda, especially in delivering the commitment to halving the number of non-decent homes across all tenures by 2030.

While welcoming the references to selective licensing schemes in the Government’s White Paper ‘A fairer private rented sector’, CIEH is seeking a response to the recommendations of an earlier independent review of the use and effectiveness of selective licensing that was published by the Government.

Ross Matthewman, Head of Policy and Campaigns at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said:

“The tragic death of Awaab Ishak has highlighted the importance of improving housing conditions in all types of tenure to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.

There are several ways in which the UK Government could make it easier for local authorities to use selective licensing schemes to improve housing conditions in the private rented sector.

Firstly, the Government needs to ensure that local authorities operating such schemes can improve housing conditions through licence conditions. The independent review highlights a disconnect in the legislation whereby local authorities can introduce selective licensing to tackle poor property conditions but cannot include a directly enforceable requirement relating to property condition as a condition of the licence itself.

Secondly, the Government should use national landlord registration to support selective licensing. The proposed property portal is a step in the right direction. We are unclear though whether it will provide local authorities with the information they need in order to check the suitability of landlords before issuing a licence.

Thirdly, the Government should make it easier to set up selective licensing schemes. We are concerned that some local authorities may be deterred from setting up such schemes by the bureaucracy and expense involved in doing so.

We hope that Michael Gove and his team will work with us to address these issues.”

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