Licensing enables local authorities to inspect privately rented housing using enforceable conditions and to identify and resolve issues without relying on tenant complaints. It provides locally tailored regulation of the sector and a sustainable and predictable source of income that supports local authority staffing levels and the training of new officers.

Licensing means the market pays for its own regulation, rather than relying on the taxpayer. It also makes major contributions to area-based issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour and waste management, and brings together a range of bodies to focus on additional support services for landlords and tenants, improving public health and reducing burdens on the NHS.

What are we doing?

In November 2022 we wrote a letter to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. We argued that selective licensing schemes had a crucial role 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. The letter reflected recommendations in the report A licence to rent, which was produced by the Chartered Institute of Housing and CIEH.

In November 2023 we published written evidence submitted to the Renters (Reform) Bill Committee, expressing concerns about the proposed Property Portal potentially removed the need for selective licensing schemes. We recommended that the portal should be a tool to support the use of licensing schemes by local authorities. Additionally, we proposed amendments to the Bill that would allow local authorities to use license conditions to enhance housing conditions and extend the maximum duration of discretionary licensing schemes from five to ten years.

In April 2024 we sent a parliamentary briefing to MPs for the report stage of the Renters (Reform) Bill in the House of Commons. We urged them to reject an amendment tabled by government backbenchers that would have removed the ability of local housing authorities to designate areas as subject to selective licensing. The Government confirmed in the debate that it did not want to see selective licensing abolished.

What are we calling for

  • For local authorities operating selective licensing schemes to be able to use licence conditions to improve housing conditions
  • An increase in the maximum duration of discretionary licensing schemes from five to ten years
  • The removal of the Secretary of State's ability to veto selective licensing schemes covering more than 20% of the local authority area
  • National landlord registration to be used as a tool to support the use of licensing schemes by local authorities

Further information

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