Residential Letting: Selective Evolution

Selective licensing has been around for several years, but has recently been back in the headlines.

Since April 2006, Housing Act 2004 has allowed local authorities to adopt selective licensing in areas affected by low demand or anti-social behaviour.  Once implemented, all privately-rented dwellings within the affected area must be licensed, except where they are already licensed under the legislation relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation or benefit from an exemption (such as accommodation provided by universities or social housing providers).

From 1 April 2015, local authorities must seek confirmation from the Secretary of State for any selective licensing scheme covering more than 20% of their geographical area or affecting more than 20% of privately rented homes in the local authority area.  Changes are also being made to the criteria and consultation requirements.

In the meantime, recent developments in the North West include:

  • Liverpool City Council introduced a citywide scheme on 1 April 2015;
  • Oldham Council introduced a scheme on 1 May 2015, affecting eight areas (Alexandra, Coldhurst, Hathershaw, Hollinwood, Oldham Edge, Primrose Bank, St Mary’s and Waterhead);
  • Wirral Council is introducing a scheme on 1 July 2015, affecting four specific areas (Birkenhead South, Egerton North, Seacombe Library and Egremont Promenade South).

Looking further afield, selective developments include:

  • Several London Boroughs have introduced selective licensing, including Newham, Brent, Barking & Dagenham and Waltham Forest;
  • A borough-wide scheme proposed by London Borough of Enfield was quashed by the High Court in December 2014;
  • Sheffield City Council adopted a selective licensing scheme for Page Hall in January 2014;
  • Rotherham MBC introduced a scheme on 1 May 2015, affecting four areas (Eastwood, Masbrough, Dinnington and Maltby South East).

Conversely, Manchester City Council was one of the first local authorities to adopt selective licensing but decided not to renew its own scheme when the initial five-year period expired.

It is important that all residential landlords know whether any of their properties fall within an area subject to selective licensing and, if so, that all necessary licences are obtained (and paid for) and all other requirements of the scheme are complied with.

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